Medical Definition of Twilight sleep
Twilight sleep: A term applied to the combination of analgesia (pain relief) and amnesia (loss of memory) produced by a mixture of morphine and scopolamine ("scope") given by a hypodermic injection (an injection under the skin). The mixture of the two drugs created a state in which the woman, while responding somewhat to pain, did not remember it after delivering her baby. Twilight sleep was once in vogue in obstetrics.
Morphine and scopolamine are both venerable drugs that are naturally occurring members of a large chemical class of compounds called alkaloids:
Scopolamine + morphine provided childbirth without pain (or without the memory of pain), once a much sought-after objective. However, there were serious problems with twilight sleep. It completely removed the mother from the birth experience and it gravely depressed the baby's central nervous system. This sometimes made for a drowsy depressed baby with poor breathing capacity. Twilight sleep therefore has fallen entirely out of favor and is now a chapter in the history of obstetrics.
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016
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