Pain relief options for labor and delivery
You have it all planned out. You are going to have this baby naturally. No pain relief for you-you laugh at the thought. You tell your husband, no matter what I say, DO NOT let me get any pain medication. Then labor hits-you have been in labor for 12 hours and only at 4 centimeters dilated and the pain is not like any pain you have felt in your life. You beg your husband, nurse, and anyone else that will stop long enough to listen for some relief. They give you pain medication and you are able to enjoy the rest of your labor. But what about your birthing plan? What about not using any medication? Did that just make you less of a woman? In one word-no.
There is nothing wrong with using pain medications during labor and childbirth. They can help give you relief and allow you to relax and dilate more quickly and help make the whole childbirth experience wonderful. Before going into labor, you should know all your pain medication options and discuss them with your husband and have a plan ready for if and when you decide to use pain medication.
The various types of pain medication for childbirth are:
Demerol or Nubain and Stadol: they are given in an IV or injection and start working within the 15 minutes and provide relief for 2-4 hours.
Nitrous oxide or other inhaled analgesics: They are a mix of oxygen and gas that is inhaled through a face mask as you need it.
Epidural: A narcotic or anesthetic that is injected into the space between the sheath surrounding the spinal cord and the bony vertebrae of the spine. It numbs you from the waist down, providing complete relief in 85% of women, pain relief in 12% and no relief in 3%. It usually takes effect within 15-20 minutes.
Spinal: It?s injected into the spinal fluid in your lower back. A spinal numbs your from the waist to your knees. Takes around 3-4 minutes to take effect and you may have to lie flat on your back for several hours after delivery to avoid a post spinal headache (although with medical advances, this complication is becoming rarer).
Paracervical block: Is a local anesthetic that is inserted into the tissues around the cervix to numb the pain caused by dilation.
Pudendal block: An anesthetic that is injected into the nerves of the vaginal area and perineum. A pudendal block does not ease uterine discomfort.
Caudal block: Is an anesthetic that is injected into the spinal area around the sacrum, numbing the vaginal area and perineum.
Local anesthetic: It is injected into the tissues of the perineum in preparation for episiotomy or is given prior to placing sutures after delivery.