Know your pain-relief options, and don’t hesitate to say what you want – and don’t want.
Labour begins when your uterus starts to contract. In the days before labour starts, you may experience Braxton-Hicks contractions, which mimic the real thing, but don’t progress into full labour. You know you’re in true labour when the pains come regularly and start to get closer together or your water breaks.Natural birth, drug-freeLamaze
Modern Lamaze childbirth classes teach expectant mothers breathing techniques. They often combine other methods such as hot and cold packs, changing positions and the use of a birthing ball or stool to remain in an upright position.Bradley
Also referred to as "husband-coached childbirth". It is an approach that prepares a mother for a delivery with minimal need for anesthetics or drugs and advocates the role of coach for the father. Visualisation
Mental imagery is often paired with a scripted relaxation CD. Hypnobirthing
By eliminating fear and tension, the laboring mother experiences less pain. It is the only natural childbirth method that teaches pain is not a necessary part of childbirth.Water therapy
The use of water is well-documented as a labour pain management technique. Women in labour may move in and out of a warm bath as the labour progresses.Changing positions
during labour may improve your comfort. Sitting in an upright position may increase comfort and speed contractions in early labour. Squatting may help you later on. Some women find sitting on a birthing ball (a large rubber ball) helpful. Women who have pain in the back may find that getting on their hands and knees can ease discomfort.
Complementary methods such as acupuncture and reflexology are also used to relieve pain during labour.
Natural birth, with drugsSystemic analgesics (Painkillers)
These drugs provide pain relief over the entire body without causing loss of consciousness. They are often given as an injection into a muscle or vein. Sometimes other drugs are given with systemic analgesics to relieve tension or nausea. While the drugs don’t completely get rid of pain, they do lessen its intensity. Some painkillers may cause drowsiness and may make it hard to concentrate. Epidural
An "epidural block" numbs or causes a loss of feeling in the lower half your body. A specialist physician or anesthesiologist injects the block into the lower back. The numbing medicine can be given continuously or in small doses through a tube for as long as desired. This lessens the pain of the uterine contractions and the delivery of the baby through the vagina.
A spinal block is similar to an epidural and provides good relief. The difference is that the medicine is only given one time in your back and it lasts only 1-2 hours. A spinal block is often used for women who are giving birth vaginally, if the baby needs to be helped out of the vaginal canal with forceps or vacuum extraction.
Combined spinal/epidural Block
The spinal/epidural combines both a spinal and epidural block and may provide pain relief much faster. It's often used when women are in very active labor and want relief right away.Walking epidural block
This type of epidural is designed to decrease pain sensation while allowing the mother to move her legs. Most women aren't actually able to walk around with this type of epidural in place, but they do have more ability to change position. Local anesthesia (Pudendal Block)
Local anesthesia is a numbing medicine injected in the vaginal and rectal areas by your obstetrician at the time of delivery. This is usually done to lessen the pain as the baby is being delivered and numb the area for an episiotomy, if necessary.
Caesarean birthSpinal anesthetic
- Administered at the subarachnoid space in the lower back, which contains the cerebrospinal fluid. This causes total numbness, but the mother is still awake.
- Medication is injected in the epidural space that surrounds the fluid-filled sac around the spine. This form of anesthesia numbs the mother’s abdomen and legs.General anesthesia
- Keeps the mother asleep during the entire procedure.Which pain management method would you recommend?