Pain Management During Labor

November 8, 2010

There are a variety of pain management options available to women today. Some of these methods are considered natural, meaning non-medical, while others involve the use of medicine. Neither option is necessarily better than the other and pain management is a personal choice. You need to choose what best works for you. Know the options. Pay attention to your body and don't be afraid to vary the techniques you use.

Counter Pressure--Labor Pain

This is the process of applying a significant amount of pressure to the area of discomfort where the baby is pushing against a muscle or nerve. Counter pressure is effective in relieving some of the pain of back labor and should be applied during the contraction.

Water To Relieve Labor Pain

Hot water can be directed to areas of discomfort helping a laboring women deal with the pain. Soaking in a deep tub, Jacuzzi or labor tub can alleviate pressure by making you more buoyant. Sometimes water can lessen the concentration of oxytocin in the body, which is necessary for contractions. For this reason, water pain management involving full submersion is sometimes discouraged in early labor since it can slow the labor.

Mental Imagery To Help Labor Pain

Visualization can be highly effective at pain management. It works by you imagining yourself in each stage of birth and how you'll respond to each stage. This can help prepare you mentally for what's about to happen. Mental imagery includes visualizing breath entering and exiting the body, the cervix opening or the baby descending.

Position Changes For Labor Pain

Shifting position can help change the pressure of the baby and take the sharpest edge off the pain. Generally laying directly on your back is the worst position to be in for pain management. It also doesn't allow gravity to work with you helping the baby descend down the birth canal.

Narcotic Analgesics

These types of medications mimic the body's natural pain relieving substances (endorphins) and are often administered directly into the blood with an IV or through a needle in the thigh. The relief tends to be immediate as the medicine blocks pain receptors in your brain either numbing the pain or giving the illusion that the pain is completely gone. These types of medications are not administered if the mother is within two hours of giving birth. Close fetal monitoring is required with narcotic analgesics since there's a higher risk of fetal distress and respiratory depression as the medication numbs the baby as well.

Regional Blocks For Labor Pain

These types of medications work by preventing the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. Most commonly known as an epidural or spinal, a regional block is inserted into your spine with a catheter by an anesthesiologist. It takes about 20 minutes to do this, but the pain relief may allow you to sleep or relax as the labor progresses naturally.

Entonox for Labor Pain

Also known as laughing gas, entonox is a colorless and odorless gas made of equal parts of oxygen and nitrous oxide. It doesn't block off the pain of labor but it takes the edge off of it. You breathe it into your system with a mask or mouthpiece using deep and even breaths. It takes 30 seconds for the gas to enter your bloodstream so timing practice is necessary to experience the full benefits. Begin breathing the gas as soon as a contraction begins before it begins to hurt its worst. The gas will make you feel slightly lightheaded.

 

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