Pain Relief During Labor

Labor is different for every woman from the type of labor they choose to have to the pain they experience during labor. Pain depends on various factors such as the size and position of the baby and the strength of the contractions. There are classes that can be taken beforehand to learn breathing and relaxation techniques to help cope with pain during labor, however others prefer to use those techniques in additional to pain medications. Talk to your gynecologist about your options to see what you feel more comfortable with.

There are two different types of pain-relieving drugs: analgesics and .

Analgesia is the relief of pain without total loss of feeling or muscle movement. Analgesics do not always stop pain completely, but they do lessen it. Anesthesia is blockage of all feeling, including pain. Some forms of anesthesia, such as general anesthesia, cause you to lose consciousness.

Not all hospitals can offer every type of pain medication, however most hospitals have an anesthesiologist who will work with your health care team to pick the best method for you.

In addition to pain medication you can follow some of these tips to help you ease the pain:

* Do relaxation and breathing techniques taught in childbirth class.
* Have your partner massage or firmly press on your lower back.
* Change positions often.
* Take a shower or bath, if permitted.
* Place an ice pack on your back.
* Use tennis balls for massage.
* When contractions are closer together and stronger, rest in between and take slow, deep breaths.
* If you become warm or perspire, soothe yourself with cool, moist cloths.

Another common form of pain relief is an Epidural analgesia, also called an epidural block, causes some loss of feeling in the lower areas of your body, yet you remain awake and alert. An epidural block is given in the lower back into a small area (the epidural space) below the spinal cord. You will be asked to sit or lie on your side with your back curved outward and to stay this way until the procedure is completed. You can move when it's done, but you may not be allowed to walk around.
Because the medication needs to be absorbed into several nerves, it may take a short while for it to take effect. Pain relief will begin within 10–20 minutes after the medication has been injected.

Although an epidural block will make you more comfortable, you still may be aware of your contractions. You also may feel your doctor's exams as labor progresses. Your anesthesiologist will adjust the degree of numbness for your comfort and to assist labor and delivery. You might notice a bit of temporary numbness, heaviness, or weakness in your legs.

There are other forms of pain relief, be sure to talk with your doctor about your questions and any concerns you may have. They will be able to help you find the best option for you.