Pregnancy and pain relief during labor: Back in older times, women were expected to go through pregnancy and labor the old fashion way. That meant no drugs, no epidurals, no meditation techniques, no pain relief during labor at all! Squatting and screaming was the way to go. Thank God we don’t live in those times, right ladies?
In these modern times, there are (thankfully) many options for pregnancy and pain relief during labor, natural and drug-induced to help you weather the storm.
Pregnancy and pain relief during labor - options
- Epidurals & Spinal Blocks: The best thing invented since sliced bread. Epidurals, often the most popular form of pain relief for labor, are given through a catheter into your spine. This deadens the nerves, temporarily, from your waste down to your toes. Many doctors will now give you an epidural as soon as you ask for it. Others will wait until you are dilated to a particular stage. Spinal blocks are similar to epidurals, but are a more temporary option. You are injected once, rather than given a catheter.
- Pros: You will be alert and awake during the labor. An epidural will not make you feel tired or groggy. The effectiveness of an epidural is very good. Most times, it works quite well and eliminates all the pain you were feeling.
- Cons: You will probably not be able to move your body from your hips down to your toes, which can leave you quite uncomfortable and frustrated if you are in for a long labor. There is a risk from the anesthesia for both mother and baby, although very small. The mom could experience a drop in blood pressure. An epidural may lead to fetal distress, fetal malposition, increase the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, episiotomy, and perhaps incur a C-section.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving an epidural during childbirth.
- Narcotics & Tranquilizers: Narcotics are rarely used now, except in very small doses.
- Pros: Can be less invasive than an epidural. Can take the edge of contractions.
- Cons: Less effective than epidural. Can cause side effects to the mother such as nausea or dizziness. Your baby may be sleepy or groggy when born, heart rate may change, and the baby may have trouble nursing at first. Larger doses may interfere with your breathing and with your baby’s breathing. Narcotics can slow the progress of labor.
- Visualization & Meditation: Practicing visualization and meditation is a natural alternative to manage pain.
- Hypnosis: Another natural alternative to manage pain.
- Water Birth: Water birth takes the pressure off of labor while you float in a tub of warm water. It helps soothe a woman's pain relief during natural labor. Many midwives offer the option of water birth.
- Massage: Massage from your partner and/or doula can help soothe the pain of labor. Click here for more information on massage techniques for labor.
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