Choices of Medication in Labor
What Are My Choices for Medication?
We offer you many options to provide comfort during your labor and birth. These options include various medications or natural methods (without medication).
Taking a childbirth education class can help you prepare for labor. Even if you plan to use medication when you are in labor it is good to know some natural ways to deal with labor pain that you can use at home when labor starts. Find out more and sign up for a childbirth education class.
Each woman deals with her labor pain in her own way. Understanding how your body works and feeling relaxed, loved, and supported will help you to deal with labor. Natural labor techniques that you can do include:
- Breathe through your contractions
- Use warm packs or ice packs where it hurts
- Walk if you can
- Change your position when it is hard to cope
- Use a birth ball
- Choose a support person who can help you through the contractions. You may have up to three people in the delivery room to support you.
- Hydrotherapy is using warm water to help relieve pain. You can use the shower or one of the labor tubs to help with labor pain. Medical studies show no problems with tub use during labor. Some women find it to be very soothing during labor and it can help you use less pain medication during labor.
Pain Medication for Labor
- May take away some of the pain
- Makes you feel more relaxed and sleepy
- Can help you to sleep in between contractions
- May not take all of the pain away
- Can make your baby sleepy and have a harder time breathing if you get the medicine too close to giving birth
- Can cause an allergic reaction in some women. This is rare.
This is a medication given by an anesthesiologist (a doctor specially trained to give anesthesia medicine) to numb labor pain. During labor or a C-section, anesthesia can be given three (3) different ways:
1) Epidural: This is when the anesthesiologist places a small catheter or tube in your back. Pain medication goes through the tube to numb your labor pain. You can get more pain medication through the tube as you need it during your labor. It takes about 20 minutes for the pain to stop. An epidural is the most common way to give anesthesia pain medication.
2) Spinal anesthesia: The anesthesiologist gives you a shot of pain medication in your back. Spinal anesthesia numbs labor pain in a short amount of time and is more often used for a cesarean section.
- Epidural and spinal anesthesia help to numb most of your labor pain
- Less pain makes you feel more relaxed
- Epidural and spinal anesthesia may make your legs very numb and heavy
- These can slow the pace of your contractions and make pushing time longer
- These may cause a headache that can last several days
3) General anesthesia: In some cases, the anesthesiologist will have to give you medicine to make you go to sleep during surgery. You will have a tube down your throat to help you breathe while you are asleep. General anesthesia is not used very often.