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Treating pain during labor

Treating pain during labor
Stages of Labor
Symptoms of Labor
Treating pain during labor

Labor, delivery and childbirth treatment
Labor pain has a purpose.  It is caused by contractions of the uterus that are pushing your baby down and out of the birth canal. In other words,  preparing for childbirth includes thinking about how you'd like to cope with the pain of labor. 

Almost all women worry about the pain of childbirth, but the experience is different for everyone. So no one can predict how you will feel. The amount of pain a woman feels during labor depends partly on the size and position of her baby, the size of her pelvis, her emotions, and the strength of the contractions. 

Let's take a look at the two pain management options you'll have during delivery so that you can better prepare for labor.  You'll be able to choose between medical pain relief and natural pain relief, or combinations of both.


Intravenous or intramuscular analgesic - Using an IV, a doctor will administer pain medicine to go directly into your blood and help ease pain.  Analgesics do not get rid of all the pain but help make pain bearable. After receiving an IV or intravenous analgesic, you still have the option of requesting an epidural or spinal anethesia later.

Epidural anesthesia - During an epidural, a doctor injects medicine into the lower part of your spine. The medicine blocks pain in the parts of the body below the shot, including the pain of contractions. Epidurals allow most women to be awake and alert with very little pain.

Pudendal Block- During a pedendal block, numbing medicine is injected into the vagina and a nearby nerve called the pudendal nerve for pain relief with alertness. Pudendal blocks are only used late in labor, usually right before the baby's head comes out.

Spinal anesthesia - Spinal anesthesia uses numbing medicines to numbs the entire body below an injection point in your spine to give immediate relief.  Spinal anesthesia is most frequently used during emergency C-sections.


Many women choose to deliver their babies without using medicine for pain relief. Building a positive outlook on childbirth and managing fear can help you with the pain.  Things women in labor do to ease the pain include:

  • find comfortable positions while in labor (stand, crouch, sit, walk, etc)
  • learn breathing techniques
  • learn relaxation techniques
  • listen to music
  • receive massages
  • rely on the supportive care or a loved one, nurse, or doula
  • take warm showers or baths
  • waterbirth

Your doctor will not be able to tell you exactly what kind of pain relief you will receive until you are in labor or are ready to deliver.  And although your preferences will be considered when deciding what type of pain relief is best for you during labor, many other factors, including your well-being and that of your baby, will affect this choice.  You may not always receive medication just when you feel you need it.

Be prepared to be flexible.  Some of the techniques described here may appeal to you more than others, but your health and the health of your baby must be considered when it comes time to decide if a pain medication is needed and, if so, which one will be best.  And remember that no two labors or deliveries are the same, and no two people have exactly the same ability to tolerate pain.  Your birth story will be unique and memorable.

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Tags: Pain Management, pain medication, contractions, Childbirth, administer, medication, treatment, alertness, injection, Epidural, ability, vagina, appeal, affect, woman, head, baby listen to music, pain relief treatment, about your health, pain treatment
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