Just as the duration of time during labor varies, the intensity of pain women experience is also different. Most of the time the size and position of your baby as well as the strength of the contractions usually influence the pain.
Though the intensity of the pain experienced by women during labor varies due to various factors, some women are able to manage their pain with relaxation and breathing techniques acquired during childbirth classes. In spite of this some women require other methods to manage pain during labor.
There are several drugs that are used to relieve pain during labor and delivery. Though these drugs are considered safe for the mother and the baby, just like any other drugs, they tend to have side effects. Basically pain-relieving drugs fall into 2 categories. These are anesthetics and analgesics.
Analgesics relieve pain without the total loss of muscle movement and feeling. During labor, they may be administered systematically by injections into muscle, regionally or vein by injecting into the lower back to numb the lower region. A single injection into the spinal fluid that relieves pain quickly is commonly referred to as a spinal block. An epidural block provides pain relieve into the area around the spinal cord and nerves using catheter inserted into the epidural area. The only problem with this approach is that it has many risks. These include low blood pressure which can slow the baby’s heart rate.
Anesthetics block feelings including pain and muscle movement. General anesthesia usually causes people to lose consciousness. If you are undergoing cesarean delivery, you might be given epidural, spinal and general anesthesia.
Epidural has changed drastically over the last decade. Unlike in the past the medicine is no longer delivered in one big shot that makes you feel numb. Rather than have one hefty shot, it is delivered through a slow continuous drip to avoid numbing you completely. This makes it possible to feel enough pressure to enable you keep pushing. Currently many hospitals are using patient-controlled contraption which keeps the baseline epidural low and gives you the opportunity to press a button if you need more of it.
Unlike epidurals which can take about 20 minutes to take effect, spinals work within seconds. The spinal goes into a slightly lower space in your back and works within seconds. The epidural gives you a continuous supply of pain-relieving medication, however the spinal comes in a single injection that is effective for about 45 minutes.
Women who do not want to get epidural or are unable to get one can opt for opioid such as Stadol or Demerol. Unlike epidurals and spinals, pain reliever delivered via IV can make you really drowsy. In addition there is a real risk that it can get into the child’s bloodstream. Since IVs medications can make the child groggy, they are best administered well in advance (at least 1 hour before delivery).
5- Non-drug options
Apart from standard approaches used to manage pain during labor, there are several other options for dealing pain during birth. Non-drug options for relieving pain include:
Massage may sound like an understatement when it comes to the kind of pressure most women require to get relief, however this technique has been shown to be quite effective. While some women say that the massage did little to relieve the pain, most accept that having their spouse close at hand rubbing their feet, hands or temple usually distracts them and makes them feel cared for which boosts their morale and relaxes them.
7- Water therapy
Water therapy is known to be highly effective in relieving or diminishing pain during labor. Most women say that getting into warm water works wonders for them. Here there are no established rules on how to go about it; however some doctors do not recommend getting into the water during early labor since it might slow things down.
8- Moving around
Moving around is an effective method of managing pain during labor. This consists of swaying, rolling on a birth ball, walking and changing position. Moving around not only assists in managing the pain but is also helpful in speeding up your labor by using the force of gravity to your advantage by encouraging the movement as well as rotation of the baby through the pelvic canal.
If you find that your ability to move around is limited due to attachment to equipment such s fetal monitors and IVs, you can consider changing positions on your hands and knees. You can also squat, walk and stand on the bed.
Breathing just like when you breathe when lifting weights helps in managing pain during labor. You can opt to pant or inhale deeply. As long as you are focusing on your breath and releasing it, you will get some relief.
Relaxing is one of the practical approaches used to manage pain during labor. Basically relaxing is the most important thing you can relax during labor. Here the overall idea is to take your mind off the pain especially between the contractions. When you fear pain, you tend to tense up. This makes the pain worse which makes you tenser.