Handling Labor Pain

by Osric Neal
Handling Labor Pain

Handling Labor Pain

I think all women can agree that labor is painful. The degree of pain differs from woman to woman, depending on the pain tolerance. During the 1st stage of labor the pain is caused by the uterus contracting and the cervix is dilating. The second stage of labor is when the birth canal stretching as the baby passes through.

Just because you need medication to help you with your labor pains, you should in no way feel you are falling short of being a perfect mother or that your pregnancy isn't natural. Everyone responds to pain differently, both emotionally and physiologically. Women who are in excruciating pain usually don't breathe regularly, and they also tense their muscles. By doing so, this may prolong labor.

We will look at the different ways women have dealt with labor pains. Some women have used breathing techniques learned in childbirth classes. Some women want medication to help deal with the pain, while other choose to deal with the pain on their own.

Dealing with Labor Pain

Systemic medications

The most common medications used systemically are relatives to the narcotic morphine. These medications can be given every two to four hours as needed. either intravenously or intramuscularly.

Any medication taken during labor has some side effects, although your doctor will do what they can to minimize these side effects. The degree in which the fetus or newborn is affected depends on how close to delivery the medication is given. If a large dose is given within 2 hours of delivery, the newborn may be sleepy or groggy. There is no evidence that these medications, when given in appropriate doses and proper monitoring, have any effect on the progress of labor or on the rate of cesarean deliveries.

Dealing with Labor Pain

Dealing with Labor Pain

Regional anesthetics

Systemic medications are distributed via the bloodstream to all parts of the body. Though most of the pain from labor and delivery is concentrated in the uterus, vagina, and rectum, so regional anesthesia is used to deliver pain medication to those areas. The commonly used techniques to have regional pain relief include epidural and spinal anesthesia and caudal, saddle, and pudendal blocks.

Epidural anesthesia

Epidural is perhaps the most popular form of labor pain relief. When you get an epidural, a tiny, flexible, plastic catheter is inserted through a needle into the lower back and threaded into the space above the membrane covering the spinal cord. Once in place, medication can be sent through it to numb the nerves coming fro the lower parts of the spine. These nerves go to the uterus, vagina, and perineum. The catheter, not the needle remains in place throughout the labor in case you need a "top-up" dose to get you through the rest of the labor and delivery.

Spinal anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia is similar to an epidural except that the medication is injected into the space under the membrane covering the spinal cord rather than above it. This is used more often for cesarean delivery, especially when a cesarean is needed suddenly and no epidural was placed during labor.

Caudal and saddle blocks

This involves placing the medications very low in the spinal canal, so they affect only those pain nerves going to the vagina and perineum. Using these methods have a rapid onset of pain relief but the medication wears off sooner.

Pudendal block

A pudendal block can be injected by your doctor inside the vagina, in the area next to the pudendal nerves. This will numb parts of the vagina and the perineum, but does nothing to relieve contraction pains.



We love to hear from you. Please leave any comments about your labor pains, and they ways you used to deal with the pain. If you have any suggestions on what you would like for us to write about on our next blog, please leave a comment.

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