Pain Management during Childbirth

Along with the joy of childbirth, often comes, well, pain. Labor and delivery pain can vary from person to person and is influenced by many factors, including how big or small your baby is and how he or she is positioned. There are, however, several options for pain management during childbirth. The right choice for you can be a combination of options, which may change throughout your labor, and is commonly a matter of personal preference, your individual circumstances, and what your doctor recommends. Having a general understanding of the pros and cons of pain management options can provide some peace of mind.

Relaxation Techniques
These techniques can include meditation, visualization, massage, listening to music, and more.
Pros: No drug-related side effects; can help you remain calm and focused; can be used in addition to other methods of pain management
Cons: Are typically not highly effective pain relievers, and are very often less effective as labor pain intensifiesbreathing exercises, relaxation, epidural

Breathing Exercises
These exercise can range from yoga-style breathing to specific techniques including Lamaze or the Bradley method.
Pros: No drug-related side effects; can incorporate active partner participation
Cons: Generally not as effective at reducing pain as drugs and therefore may not work as well in later stages of labor as they do in early stages

Narcotic Drugs
These drugs are commonly given during early stages of labor.
Pros: Effective at dulling pain, while you retain the ability to push
Cons: Can cause side effects including sleepiness and nausea; baby may require medication to counteract narcotics

Epidural Anesthesia
The epidural, a regional anesthesia delivered via a catheter in the lower back, is the most common way to manage labor and delivery pain. It’s administered during active labor when a patient is at least 4 centimeters dilated. It relieves pain in the entire lower region of the body. Similar to a regular epidural, a combined spinal-epidural or, as it’s commonly called, a walking epidural allows for more freedom of movement.
Pros: Very effective at relieving pain, and allows patient to remain awake even during a cesarean delivery
Cons: Monitoring is necessary, as this medication can cause a drop in blood pressure; relieving the pain of contractions can make it difficult to know when and how to push

Alternative Pain Management Techniques
Alternatives to traditional pain management techniques include hypnosis, acupuncture, reflexology and more.
Pros: No drug-related side effects; provides an option for those seeking holistic approaches
Cons: Are most often not as effective at relieving pain as drugs, and are not commonly available options in many hospitals

 

As you prepare for parenthood, the team at Denton Regional Medical Center can answer all your questions and advise you on pain management. We offer educational classes, and we can help you deliver your baby in a designer birthing room. For more information, visit us online or call (940) 898-0629 for a physician referral.

 

Sources:

Labor and Birth (American Pregnancy Association)
The Nature and Management of Labor Pain (American Family Physician)

Coping with Labor Pain (March of Dimes)

Related Posts:

Getting Your Body Ready for Pregnancy (posts 4/6)

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