Although the woman’s body can endure childbirth, it is not always an easy or painless process. Modern medicine provides several ways to help women deal with the pain of childbirth. Also, some of these pain management treatments may actually offer a calming effect. This is important, as many women fear the pain associated with childbirth much more than actually delivering the baby.
Let’s take a look at the most common methods of pain management modern medicine provides to mothers.
What are the types of medications for pain relief that are provided during labor and delivery?
There are two primary types of pain relief drugs provided during labor and delivery.
One is analgesics, which lessens the pain. It can cause numbness or the loss of muscle movement. On the other hand, anesthetics block most feelings to a particular area, including the feeling of pain. One who has been given an anesthetic loses muscle movement in that area.
Pain relievers are labeled as either:
Systemic Pain Relievers
Systemic pain relievers are the analgesic painkillers which also provide a calming effect to the patient. The patient will remain conscious while under the administration of these medications. However, the patient may experience itching, nausea, a lack of concentration, and drowsiness.
Regional Pain Relievers
Regional medications affect one area of the body. The local anesthetics kills pain in an even smaller area of the body.
Are some women given nitrous oxide?
Many labor and delivery units in hospitals utilize nitrous oxide combined with oxygen to help to calm the mother and provide some pain relief. Although some women will feel a bit of nausea as a result of inhaling nitrous oxide, there are no real side effects for either the mother or the baby.
What is local anesthesia, and when is it used?
Local anesthesia is often an injection that is given in the vagina, perineum, or the vulva. This type of anesthesia is typically administered to the area in question just before delivery. It may be used to carry out an episiotomy. In this process, the doctor repairs any torn tissue shortly after birth.
What is regional anesthesia, and is it the same thing as an epidural?
Regional anesthesia (sometimes called regional analgesics) include:
- the epidural block
- the spinal block
- a combined spinal-epidural block (CSE)
The epidural block is the same as what most people refer to as an epidural. It is used to block pain below the waist. The epidural may lessen pain rather than completely block it so the mother can move and push during contractions.
The spinal block is commonly used during a Cesarean delivery in the form of an injection. It lasts for only an hour or two.
The combined spinal-epidural is beneficial because it gives both immediate pain relief from the spinal block injection and continuous pain relief from the epidural block.
In some rare cases, the mother will be provided general anesthesia as if she were having surgery.
Today, women are better able to go through the birthing experience due to the measures provided for pain relief. Side effects are typically minimal, and most women experience a full recovery from the anesthesia within hours.