Pain Relief in Childbirth
The Natural And Medical Pain Relief Options
Labor is intensely painful. Still many women take birthing classes and choose to forgo using medicine to help them deal with the pain. Even if this is your plan, it is still wise to know both your medical and natural pain relief options before you go into labor. Labor can be unpredictable and you never know what will come up.
If you have a particularly long labor or if the baby is turned wrong, it can be very painful and your plans to give birth naturally may change.
Maybe you know already you want medical pain relief. Either way here is some helpful information about your pain relief options - both medical and natural.
Pain Relief Options
EpiduralAn epidural is probably the most popular of the medical labor pain relief options.
You will need to sit on the edge of your bed or lay completely still on your side with your back bare. The anesthesiologist will clean your back with an antiseptic solution. He will give you a small shot with a local anesthetic in your back. You will need to be absolutely still, even through any contractions.
Sometimes family members will be asked to leave during the procedure to minimize distractions.
A nurse will stand in front of you for you to lean on and to support you and give you instructions. The anesthesiologist will then tell you to put you head on your chest and bow out your back to separate a space between your vertebrae. He will insert a needle with a catheter that will be hooked up to a machine that can administer the epidural medicine. The needle will be removed leaving the catheter. You will feel a pinch and some pressure during the procedure.
The epidural will begin working in about 20 minutes or less and will last until the birth is over and the machine is turned off. In earlier days it was common that the epidural would numb you from the waist down, making it impossible to stand up or walk. Now a "walking" epidural is much more common; taking away the pain but without making you paralyzed.
While in most cases, epidural is a real comfort for the woman in labor, some women do experience severe headaches or that the epidural is not completely effective.
Spinal BlocksSpinal blocks are another of the popular labor pain relief options. Like the epidural, a spinal block numbs the lower part of your body to relieve the pain. A tiny needle will inject the medicine directly into your spine. It is one of the quickest pain relief options, but it only lasts about two hours and cannot be given more than once. You will have limited mobility and it causes some women to feel shaky or itchy.
NarcoticsA narcotic such as Nubane may also be given. These types of drugs do not take the pain away. Instead they simply take the edge off. There are significant side effects to these pain relief options. Nubane and Demerol will make the mother and baby sleepy. It can have adverse effects on breathing and cause the Apgar score to be a little off. These effects are usually temporary, though.
Many women report that it doesn't offer a lot of pain relief, it just makes you so tired or out of it that you don't focus on the contractions. These do have their place though, and many find them to be viable pain relief options.
Laughing GasLaughing gas or nitrous oxide can be quite effective at taking off the worst edges of the labor pain. It will definitely not take the pain away completely, however. An advantage of laughing gas is that it doesn't affect your baby. To use it effectively, you might need some practice, so start using it before the contractions become completely unbearable.
What you do is that when you feel the contraction coming, you start breathing deeply in the mask immediately. Then you continue until the contractions are fading away. Since the effect lasts for a little while after you start breathing air again, don't use the gas all the way through the contraction. Both you and your baby need a lot of oxygen to be in good shape for the next contraction.
Natural Pain ReliefThere are also a number of natural ways you can reduce the pain of labor.
No matter how you choose to give birth, it is good to know your options. All of these relief options are considered to be safe for laboring mothers. Each one has its advantages and drawbacks. Only you can choose what pain relief options are right for you.
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