Pain Relief Options During Labor
Newly pregnant gals might not know much about labor, but they know one thing – it’s gonna hurt. Like, a lot. We’ve all seen those sweaty, screaming ladies in labor on TV, throwing obscenities at their husbands. Are we all destined to become crazy, mom-beasts once it’s time for our little ones to enter the world?
Modern medicine has opened the door for relatively pain-free births (well, as pain free as possible, anyway!). Plus, we’ll talk about natural methods of pain relief too.
1. Natural pain relief methods (water birth, showers, breathing techniques, Hypnobabies, etc.). Some super awesome women decide to go au naturale with their birth plan and choose not to use medically invasive pain relief options. They are, in a word, rockstars.
If you decide that this is the right path for you, make sure you start preparing early! Many of the techniques for managing pain naturally take some preparation and practice on your part and you don’t want to panic in the middle of labor and be disappointed afterwards.
2. IV Medications (Stadol, Demerol, etc.) A less popular option for pain relief, your doctor or midwife may speak with you about certain pain relievers that can be administered through your IV. They don’t numb you (like an epidural – see below), but they are designed to provide you with some relief and make your pain more bearable. However, some of them cross the placenta and can have some icky side effects for baby, so be sure to talk to your doctor about what is best!
3. Epidural or Spinal Block. Considered the holy grail of pain relief options, these two options basically numb you from the waist down. A doctor will use a needle to insert a catheter into your back that will provide you with continuous pain relief that can be adjusted. So, if you want less numbness for the pushing stage, generally the medication can be adjusted to allow you to have some feeling.
Squeamish about needles? Unless you specifically ask, you probably won’t even see the needles being used, since the doctor will be behind you.
Sound too good to be true? There are some side effects and, for some women, the epidural fails, for whatever reason or it only works on one side of their body. Plus, you have to get a catheter to pee, since, you know, you can’t saunter over to the restroom yourself. And, you’re kind of immobile for the most part, but some hospitals offer a “walking epidural,” which allows a woman to experience an epidural with some muscle use, so she is not confined to a bed for her labor.
Consider your pain relief options carefully. Whether you’ll go natural all the way, or choose to get the epidural ASAP, the prize is the same – a beautiful, little baby!
Jennifer and her husband, Robert, live in Tidewater, Virginia, and expect their bundle of joy to arrive in November 2013. (Check out her baby guessing game - you could win $100!) Besides expounding on the amazing/scary/life-changing topic of pregnancy, Jennifer is the full-time blogger behind Not Your Momma’s Cookie, where she tries to make cool treats and frequently shares embarrassing stories.