During your labor, you’ll have different pain relief options available to you. These options may change depending upon your medical condition.
During a normal vaginal delivery, one simple option is to administer pain medication through your IV. The IV pain medication may be enough to lessen the pain as you go through the first and second stages of labor.
There are times, however, when you will feel that more pain relief is needed than what you’re getting from the IV pain medication. In these cases, a procedural called an epidural can be done. An epidural is a procedure where a small tube will be placed through the skin of your back using a needle. The needle’s then removed, and special pain medicine’s given through that tube to provide you with a higher level of pain relief. This medicine’s typically delivered right up until the baby is delivered.
Even if you want to give birth vaginally, there are times when it may be necessary for your obstetrician to recommend delivery by Cesarean section. If you already have an epidural in place, this will most likely be used to give you additional medicine so you don’t feel any pain during the surgery.
If you’re scheduled for a Cesarean birth in advance, or a Cesarean birth is recommended while you’re in labor but you don’t have an epidural in, you’ll most likely receive spinal anesthesia. Spinal anesthesia’s an injection of medicine through the skin of your lower back. This medicine will make the lower part of your body numb, temporarily, so you don’t feel any pain during the surgery.
There are rare times when it might be necessary for you to receive general anesthesia for your Cesarean birth. General anesthesia’s where you’re given medicines through your IV, and these medicines will make you go off to sleep for the surgery. Anesthesia medicines will be continued that will keep you asleep until the surgery’s completely done.
Regardless of the kind of anesthesia that you have for your Cesarean birth, you will receive pain medication to help you to feel as comfortable as possible after the surgery.
We at Allina Health are fully committed to seeing you through the birth process as comfortably and safely as possible.
Giving birth: Pain medicine
Medicines can be a valuable tool in labor. They can reduce or relieve pain. Some help you work with your contractions. Others allow you to rest.
Pain medicine questions
How is the medicine given?
How soon can I get it?
How long will it take for the medicine to take effect?
Does this medicine relieve pain or reduce it?
How long does it last?
Can I get another dose if I need it?
How will the medicine affect me?
How will the medicine affect my baby?
The choice of what you use is a decision you and your health care provider make together. Weigh the advice of your nurse or health care provider with your own preferences.
You can use the questions at left to get the information you need to make a decision about using a pain medicine.
Your baby is affected by medicine you take. How much your baby is affected depends on the kind of medicine, the timing of the medicine, and the dose.
If enough time passes between when you receive the medicine and when your baby is born, your body will process the medicine. That results in the medicine having less effect on your baby.
Deciding to use medicine
Pain medicines may slow labor. It's usually a good idea to hold off taking medicine until you feel you can no longer work with your contractions and you can't rest between
them. Take medicine before you exhaust yourself fighting the contractions because this also slows labor as well as wears you out.
When you start having trouble dealing with contractions:
Change what you are doing during the contractions.
Change your breathing pattern.
Change your position.
Make the room brighter.
Focus on your partner's face or eyes during the contractions.
Ask your partner to do more, such as breathe with you or push on your lower back.
Focus on relaxing between the contractions.
Use your relaxing breathing between contractions.
Ask your partner to do things that have helped you relax in the past.
Use a warm pack or blanket to help your muscles relax.
Use the warm water of a shower or bath to aid relaxation.
Ask your nurse for help.
Ask if your cervix can be checked so that you know how far dilated you are.
Ask for comfort suggestions.
If you aren't able to get into a new rhythm to cope with your contractions, find out what pain medicines are an option.
Pain medicines used during labor and birth
Not all the medicines listed in the chart are available at all hospitals. They are also not used by all health care providers.