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Pain & Pain Relief
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The choice to have pain relief administered during childbirth is a significant decision for many women who may have an ideal of what they consider “natural childbirth.” For other women, there is no choice—they just want anything to deal with the pain. If you’re deciding whether or not to use medication, remember the decision is yours. You may want to consider the benefits and risks of medication during labor—to you and your baby. Talk with your healthcare practitioner about methods of medication during labor. Sometimes, depending on your labor situation, the use of medication may be beyond your control. Remember that giving birth isn’t a “punishment” and you are a strong and capable mother whether you use pain medication or not.

Sometimes, medication during labor may affect the baby. In very rare circumstances the baby might have breathing difficulties at first. These effects are usually only temporary.

If you decide to include pain medication in your birthing plan, discuss this with your provider and ask about your choices.

The most well-known forms of pain relief for labor and delivery include:

The Epidural. This is a commonly used form of pain relief for labor. The epidural is a regional nerve block, meaning that it numbs the nerves in the entire lower part of your body. You can stay awake for your delivery and hold your baby upon its birth. The epidural is low risk with no apparent effects on the delivery or baby. It usually provides excellent pain relief, but also limits your ability to use the muscles in your lower body. Because walking will be difficult if not impossible, you may be confined to your bed and may need assistance during the pushing stage of labor. The epidural is administered after active labor begins.

There are many medications which may be used for pain relief in labor. They are given through an IC and are short-acting.

There are other forms of pain relief for delivery, including complementary and alternative medicine or the support of a doula. Remember, all pain medications used during labor have risks as well as benefits. It is important that you are familiar with both. Talk with your care provider and childbirth educator and thoroughly consider all your options. This will help you feel prepared for the process of giving birth to your baby.

Click below to read about related topics.

Introduction
What to Expect
Pain & Pain Relief
Doulas
Cesarean Delivery
Breech Birth
Premature Labor & Delivery
Circumcision