Because women experience labor differently, we want to assist you with whatever options you choose for dealing with the pain or discomfort. Women have an inner strength and innate knowledge of how to give birth. Many things affect how you manage your labor and birth. They include:
- Your level of pain tolerance
- Your beliefs and attitude about birth
- The size and position of the baby
- Your position during labor
- How the people around you provide support
- Your emotional state during labor
- The strength and frequency of the uterine contractions
- Any prior birth experiences
"While I talked to people about baby names and how big my belly was, what I was thinking about was, 'Will I be in pain?' But, my doctor knew that pain relief would be important to me and we made plans well before Hannah's birth. I can't tell you what a difference this made for me."
A variety of safe choices are available to you for a relaxed and rewarding childbirth. These include breathing and relaxation techniques, as well as medication. Talk with your partner and doctor about pain management options.
Physical and emotional comfort measures
During labor, remember to change positions often, walk or rock when possible and keep your bladder empty. Ask those around you for help with massage, warm or cool packs, low back counter-pressure, calming scents, ice chips, gentle touches, words of encouragement or relaxing music.
Analgesics and anesthetics
Analgesics are medicines to ease anxiety and discomfort or "take the edge off" the pain. Anesthetics decrease sensation and may affect muscle movement. The type and amount of pain medicine you receive will be based on your wishes, the medical condition of you and your baby, and your doctor's orders.
Epidural anesthesia decreases the sensation of pain in your lower body while allowing you to remain conscious. It is given during labor and continues through the birth. A nurse anesthetist is available 24 hours a day to administer your epidural when your doctor orders it.
Before administering an epidural, the following must be considered:
- How you are progressing in labor
- How your baby is responding to labor
- You and your baby's state of health.
- Your previous experiences with anesthetics