As a mom-to-be, you must be eagerly awaiting the arrival of your baby. But dread the labor pains. Many pregnant women opt for pain relievers during labor, to ease the pain. Let us take a look at the various labor pain relievers available and their pros and cons.
Epidural: Epidural is by far the most commonly used drug for easing labor pains. It is injected into the spinal region in the lower back, thereby spreading numbness to the lower part of the body.
Benefits: Epidural effectively blocks pain from the lower part of your body during labor. It can be continuously administered throughout the entire duration of labor. It allows you to remain alert and participate actively in childbirth. There is usually no effect on your baby of the medicine.
Risks: Epidural can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. Your blood pressure needs to be continuously monitored, while under the effect of the epidural. You need to keep shifting sides on the bed, as labor can slow down if you are in the same position for long. Fetal heart beat should be monitored. Side effects of epidural include a headache, shivers, nausea, backache etc. Because of numbness in your body, you can find pushing difficult.
Spinal Block: Spinal block is an analgesic injected into your spine. It is used with a combination of drugs during C-section or during the advanced stage of your labor.
Benefits: Spinal block provides faster pain relief than epidural. It totally numbs the lower part of your body, for a couple of hours. You can still remain alert during delivery. It is also safe for your baby.
Risks: Spinal block is a onetime dosage. It cannot be administered continuously. Other side effects and risks are similar to those of epidural.
Local Anesthetics: Local Anesthesia can be used to numb a small area around your vagina. It provides relief from pain in case incision and/or stitches are required, during natural birth.
Benefits: Local anesthesia is short term relief from low-intensity pains. It does not hinder in the labor.
Risks: Local anesthesia does not provide any relief from pains due to contractions. Sometimes it can cause an allergic reaction.
Narcotics: Many different narcotics are available that can be used during labor. They lessen the perception of pain quickly.
Benefits: Narcotics can provide temporary relief from pain.
Risks: Narcotics cause drowsiness. They do not provide complete pain relief. They can cause breathing problems in you and/or your baby.
General Anesthesia: General anesthesia is used to put you into complete sedation. It is used only during emergencies. Though there is no harm to the baby, you cannot actively participate in the birthing process.
Instead of taking hasty decisions when in pain, it is strongly advised that you discuss with your doctor in advance about the options available and decide on what is best for you and your baby.