Pain Management in Labor
Although a natural process, labor can be immensely challenging. Every woman is different in the way that she experiences the pains of labor, and each labor itself will progress in its own way. One of the important discussions to have as the birth of your baby draws near is the options you have for pain management when in labor. The physicians at Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, in Chicago, take the time needed to educate patients and discuss details of various forms of pain management so that labor is a less stressful event.
Considering the options
Pain management in labor does not only revolve around medication. Women have a number of options to increase relaxation and decrease physical and psychological stress during labor. In the early stages of labor, especially, breathing exercises to facilitate relaxation can be very helpful. Often, breathing exercises are accompanied by ice or heat as well as massage to the lower back.
Additional methods for relaxation and relief include:
- Soft music
- Long showers
As labor pains become more intense, a woman may choose to ease discomfort with specific medications. It is best to have an idea of what type of medical treatment would be most suitable before “labor day,” even if you think you will not want medication at all. Labor is a unique event and we must expect the unexpected. It is better to know which direction you want to turn should you be faced with the need for medication.
Pain management in labor may be achieved with IV medication or with regional anesthesia, also known as the epidural. Once administered, the epidural remains in place throughout the duration of labor, delivering medication to the lower spine to diminish the sensory perception of pain while allowing the mother to remain fully alert. This form of pain management is beneficial due to its capability for use in the event a cesarean section becomes necessary. It allows mom to rest, or sleep and save energy for the 2nd stage of labor. It also has the least effect on the baby, since it is not systemic. Anesthesiologists are available full time at Northwestern, if you decide you want an epidural.
Weighing the options
The best way to determine which form of pain management is best for you is to discuss the available options with your Chicago obstetrician. Consider various factors and ask the questions that will help you make an informed decision, such as how each type of pain management may affect your baby or if a certain type of pain management will inhibit you from breast feeding immediately after birth.
Northwestern Women’s Health Associates, works with Prentice Women’s Hospital at Northwestern University. The entire labor and delivery team is committed to making your birthing experience a joyful and healthy event. Call our Chicago office to meet our staff and obtain outstanding medical care.