While skimming through the questions on the ready-made childbirth plan template, you came across the option “For pain relief, I’d like to use…” You pondered over it for a while.
Should you opt for natural birth without any pain relief medication? What if the labor pains get severe and intolerable? What are the possible pain relief options you could use?
Your next OB visit is still a week away. You slide out your keyboards and punch in the words “Types of pain relief during labor” in the Google search tab. Here we are, explaining the pros and cons of the types of pain relief that are usually used during childbirth.
The epidural block is one type of regional anesthesia used to ease pain during childbirth. It is administered in the spinal column in the lower back, outside the sac enveloping the spinal cord. The patient is asked to lie or sit with the back heavily arched for the injection. The anesthesiologist administers a test dose before the full amount. The medication takes 10-20 minutes to start working.
The benefits of this anesthesia are it can be administered anytime during labor. It eases pain in the majority part of the lower back without slowing labor or putting you to sleep. The possible adverse effects are a slight dip in blood pressure, difficulty in breathing, fever, itchiness, and soreness at the injection site.
The second type of regional anesthesia is spinal anesthesia. The spinal anesthesia is injected into the Dura. Dura is the coating around the enveloping the brain and the spinal cord. It is more vital- it acts faster than an epidural and requires less medicine than an epidural to attain the same results. This anesthetic is used mostly in cesarean delivery and in case of assisted delivery in vaginal births.
The main drawbacks are lowered blood pressure and headaches that continue in the days after delivery.
Local anesthesia not only eases labor pains. It is also used to block pain sensation in the area where it has been administered. In the case of childbirth, the local anesthesia is generally injected into the vaginal tissue or perineum to enable repairs to the tear in the vaginal tissue or the incision in case of an episiotomy.
The most significant advantage of this type of pain relief is it has minimum side effects.
This anesthesia is a childbirth specific pain relief medication. It is injected into the vaginal wall shortly before delivery to subside pain between the vagina and the anus. The anesthetic takes around 10-20 minutes to work. It does not have any adverse effects on the mother and the baby. However, the main drawback is it is not as effective as the others – it might numb only one side of the perineum or may not work.
Other pain-relieving medications
These include opioids and tranquilizers. They are injected into the muscles or may be administered intravenously. These medications allow you to relax and rest. Side effects include excessive drowsiness, nausea, and depressed breathing.