Labor And Delivery Pain Relief Options

Whether or not a woman has help with pain relief during labor and delivery is an entirely personal decision. A woman may decide one course of action and change it when the time comes, which is okay. It can also vary from birth to birth. Here is a brief overview of your pain reliever options.


This is probably the most common option women choose to help them manage the pain. Medication is injected into your lower back. It is supposed to numb your abdomen and perineal area, but it can be unpredictable sometimes, however. It may numb your legs as well, making standing up or walking difficult or impossible. It may also numb your bladder and ability to control urination, requiring a catheter. Some women feel no pain, only pressure, while other women still feel some pain through the epidural block. An epidural can also slow the progress of labor.

Narcotics And Tranquilizers

For women who want some relief but don't want to deal with the likely temporary paralysis and labor slowing an epidural causes, the doctor may give them a mild sedative via an intramuscular injection or intravenously. Narcotics may also be given. While these will both help reduce the pain and encourage relaxation, they won't completely block out all pain, they will just make it manageable. These medications can also potentially cause respiratory distress, both in the mother and the fetus. Additionally, they may cause memory loss. The baby may be born quite sluggish as well.

Pudendal Blocks

This is an injection that is administered into the perineum, which is the area between the anus and the vagina. It will block the pain within about 20 minutes in most women, but in some woman, it won't do anything. A gynecologist, OBGYN, or physician may use this if he suspects a woman may require an episiotomy during delivery. An episiotomy is a surgical procedure wherein the perineum is cut to make it larger, which will aid in the delivery. First-time mothers and those carrying large babies are frequent candidates for this procedure, and it can help avoid irregular tears. A pudendal block blocks pain, but it does not block the incredible pressure that is felt during delivery.

Other pain relief options are available that don't involve medications. Massage can be helpful, as can taking a warm shower. Lamaze classes that help you to focus on your breathing rather than the pain are also useful.