So you're pregnant, and you've decided to carry the baby to term and give birth. Pain control during labor and childbirth is a subject full of confusing options, but it is something every woman might want to consider thinking about.
What is pain control?
Well, pain control involves using different methods -- including but not limited to drugs and breathing exercises -- to make labor and delivery as comfortable as possible for a woman. Labor and childbirth will usually cause discomfort for women to varying degrees.
What are a few options for pain control?
You have a plethora of options before you. These options can be divided up into two distinct categories, and options from each category can be mixed and matched to suit your needs.
Natural Pain Control
Natural pain control methods include meditation, massage, labor poses, and breathing exercises.
Meditation and Visualization: Meditation can be used during contractions and the pushing stage of labor to help calm and focus the woman. Many women choose to close their eyes and picture a calming scene, or bring along a favorite object to focus upon during contractions. Meditation and visualization are often combined with...
Breathing Exercises: The woman uses short and long breathes in accordance to what sort of pain she is having. Short breaths are used in the middle of a contraction. These are the panting "Hee, hee, hee" sounds that are dramatized in movies or television. Long breaths are used in the beginning and end of a contraction in order to calm and focus. Long and short breaths are also combined in varying ways. Breathing exercises are best learned from a doctor or a childbirth education class to avoid the risk of fainting.
Labor Poses: The normal position hospitals use for labor and delivery is generally not the best position for pain control. Hospitals tend to have the woman lay on her back and pull her knees up to her chest. When in this pose, gravity can work against the woman's best pushing efforts. Some women find they are more successful if they labor sitting up, standing with the help of a leaning bar, or on their hands and knees.
Medical-Assisted Pain Control
Medical-assisted pain control methods include the use of intravenous drugs, epidurals, and spinal blocks.
Intravenous Drugs: These include narcotics and tranquelizers that affect the entire body, rather than focusing on relieving pain in the pelvic region. They are not as invasive as an epidural to administer, and they often work for women who can cope with some amount of pain but need a little assistance. They can, however, carry side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and disorientation, and because of these side effects the woman is generally confined to her bed. These drugs can also sometimes cross the placenta and cause the baby to be sleepy, and may affect the baby's ability to nurse for a short time after birth.
Epidurals: Epidurals decrease sensation in the lower areas of the body while allowing the woman to remain fully conscious. Medication is administered through a catheter which an anesthesiologist inserts into the woman's spine. Pain relief will last throughout labor, and the medication generally does not affect the fetus. However, both mother and baby are required to use monitoring devices once the epidural is in place. The loss of sensation can make it harder to push the baby out. The drug may also decrease the woman's blood pressure.
Spinal Blocks: Another form of regional pain relief, like an epidural. Medication is injected into the spine and reduces sensation from the waist down. No catheter is used, so the medication can only be given once. Pain relief is rapid and complete, and the medication does not generally harm the fetus. The cons to this procedure are the same as those for an epidural.
Once you have decided which form of pain relief you would like to use during our labor, inform your doctor so your wishes are carried out accordingly. Many birthing books and birthing classes give lots of good information about pain control, and will list the pros and cons of each method to help you decide. You may also want to fill out a Birthing Plan so everyone will know how you wish to conduct your labor and delivery.
Remember, how you choose to control your labor pains is your choice and your choice alone. One method is generally not better than any other method, and if you prefer not to use ANY methods of pain control, well, that's fine too! Your choice, regardless of how much or how little control you choose to use, does not make you more or less of a woman, and does not make you "strong" or "weak".
[This message has been edited by Aria51 (edited 07-17-2002).]
i didnt use any kind of pain control, i didnt need to anyway because my labor and delivery were really quick like i had both of my babies like 3 and 5 hours after i first went into labor.
Posts: 118 | From: dayton ohio usa | Registered: Apr 2002
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I wanted to say that epidurals DO affect your baby, and carry long-term side affects for the mother such as back pain and headaches. Women have been laboring and birthing babies without drugs for millenia, it's what our bodies were meant to do. And an unmedicated birth will make it easier to breastfeed right away, which is considered VERY important in establishing the nursing relationship.
Women have also been dying in childbirth, and from infections that set in soon after for thousands of years. Babies have been dying during birth for thousands of years, too. No, it's not the norm, but it has been common enough. In certain circumstances medical intervention is helpful, and in many it's downright necessary.
We at Scarleteen respect an individual's right to choose what's right for them, and this includes what medical treatments they seek or refuse, whether they choose to bring a pregnancy to term, and how they choose to have children, if they do. There are many options available, and while drug-free childbirth is an excellent option for many, it's not for everyone, and there really is no excuse for trying to force views on anyyone. If you wish to use these boards, it's necessary to have respect for ALL users, whether they share your personal views or not.
You also need to remove the 'KKK' from your location. While I realise it's an attempt at irony, it simply isn't appropriate here.
------------------ Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF
Neonatal and/or a mother's death is quite rare now and that is due to advances in medicine. It used to be the norm. An epidural acts in the spine. That is why it is preferred among health care professionals as a medical pain management tool, as it does not affect the foetus in normal circumstances. Like any medical procedure, including something as benign as a pap smear, there are risks. In the case of an epidural, most are to the mother. Your doc can discuss them with you if you ask. The anesthetist will before administering one. They even make you sign a waiver before they administer it. I can remember the anesthetist saying do you understand these risks, and I thought, "what, you were talking?", I was more focused on my contractions then his speech, so it was silly to make me sign a waiver.
Shann2002, there are 2 types of epidurals, the one I call normal, for lack of a proper term, and walking epidurals. When I had my son, the anesthetist didn't even know how to administer a walking epidural. When you have the other form of epidural, you can't move your legs, you have little to no sensation in your legs. My legs were like a dead weight, I couldn't even lift them to push. My partner had to hold one leg, and a nurse held the other. I have never heard of being paralyzed from moving your legs, in fact, I did all the time, I rolled around constantly, they were up to push, ect... If you have concerns your GYN, midwife, doula or anesthetist can discuss it all with you.
I was being respectful, I just wanted to let people know that they can have an unmedicated birth, their body was made for it, and if an emergency requires medical intervention well, that sucks of course but I certainly don't blame them for that and agree that they would be doing the best thing by having say, an emergency c-section (and accompanying epidural, of course). But, if you do choose to have a drugfree childbirth, power to ya. I did it and it wasn't that hard. PS in my Bradley class they told us that epidurals DO affect the baby, sorry if I was mistaken. And here I go to change the KKK... grumble...
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