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
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
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.
What to Expect
Pain & Pain Relief
Premature Labor &