Pain Relief Options During Labor
One of the biggest causes of anxiety during pregnancy is pain during labor. “How am I going to deal with it?”, “Can I deal with it?” Or “I’m afraid of the pain” are some of the most common thoughts pregnant people have.
And for good reason – the birth is intense. That doesn’t mean you can’t handle it. Your body was given birth, and one of the best ways to feed yourself before giving birth is to know beforehand what your pain management options are.
Pharmaceutical drugs for work
Some of the most popular tools for treating labor intensity are pharmacological drugs.
ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, divides these drugs into two categories: analgesics, which relieve pain without losing muscle function, and anesthetics, which relieve pain but also make you feel lost. These options can be applied systemically to the whole body, locally: only pain relief for a specific area, or regional: relief for a larger area or region.
What kind of analgesics are used during labor? Opioids like morphine and meperidine are two drugs that have been approved for use during labor.
You have most likely heard of the epididymis. When someone is given an epidural, they are given pain medication through a tube in their back. You will stay awake and alert, but may temporarily lose the ability to move or walk. It is common to still feel pressure, although not necessarily pain, during labor and pressing.
This can be done in combination with a spinal block, which is given as a single shot directly into the spine, but only takes about an hour. It is common to get a spinal block during a caesarean section.
Another option that is sometimes available in birthing centers and at home, not just hospitals, is nitrous oxide. Often referred to as “laughing gas,” your dentist may have given you this odorless gas. It can provide short-term relief when inhaled just before a contraction.
General anesthesia, which causes people to go to sleep, is usually only used in an emergency situation and is not a common option for providing pain relief during labor.
Non-drug pain relief for labor
There are many non-pharmacological tools that can be used alone or in conjunction with medication to ease labor.
Here’s a list of reliable tips and tricks – from a doula!
- Change of position: Changing positions can help relieve pressure in your back, pelvis, or anywhere your baby is lying and may bring some relief.
- Acupressure: There are certain points along the body, like the inside of your ankle just above the knotty bone, that pressing down during a contraction can help relieve the pain.
- Back pressure: This is usually done by squeezing the hips or applying pressure on the lower back to counteract the pressure a person giving birth feels during a contraction.
- Wander around: This is a fancy word for running. Doing laps in your room or even just around the bed can help speed up the work. Just make sure you have somewhere or someone to lean on when a contraction occurs!
- Visualization: Many people who give birth find visualizations helpful, such as the idea of your baby coming down or your body in bloom like a flower.
- Work mantras:: Or affirmations are phrases that you say to yourself over and over to keep your mind centered and grounded as you work.
- Set the room: Creating a comfortable environment for childbirth, be it at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital, will keep you relaxed and comfortable.
- Water: Even if you’re not interested in a water birth, you can use water to help with intense contractions by getting into a warm tub, shower, or hot water bottle, or other type of heat pack.
Rent a doula
One incredible way to support you, your partner, if you have one, and your aspiring family is by renting a doula. Doulas are non-medical providers that provide ongoing support through labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period. Your doula will help you create a game plan and explain your pain relief options well in advance of the birth. They’re there to bring in pain medication so you don’t have to think about it when you’re in the heat of work.
There are all kinds of antenatal classes designed to prepare you and your partner for this journey. Birth courses describe pain management options that allow you to practice various techniques and tricks with or without a partner, and alleviate other common worries people have before giving birth.
Hypnobirthing is a technique that allows people who have given birth to change their perception of pain during labor using trained relaxation techniques. This may include changing the language they use regarding pain, breathing techniques, and visualization.
Holistic healthcare providers
Certain holistic naturopaths make it their specialty to prepare people for childbirth.
Visiting an acupuncturist can help the body prepare for labor by relieving the discomfort during pregnancy, and it can even help induce labor. Acupuncturists are also often licensed herbalists and can prescribe herbal remedies that can help tighten the uterus and prepare it for the marathon that leads to childbirth.
Chiropractic can help relieve discomfort during pregnancy. Many chiropractors believe that their services during pregnancy allow the pelvis to align better, which may help ease and shorten labor.
There is no right way to give birth. How you deal with the intensity of the work is entirely up to you. Birth is unpredictable, so it is important to give yourself the space to adjust and change your plan if necessary.