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What are the pain relief options during labor and birth? You may be surprised to learn that there are many more possibilities than epidural anesthesia alone. Let's take a look at some of the pain relief possibilities during labor, along with their pros and cons.

  • Epidural anesthesia is a very common choice for pain relief. This can typically be given once active labor is established, an provides total pain relief for many women. Read about the side effects of an epidural to gain more information about risks. Epidurals are a good choice for c-sections as well.
  • A spinal block is another pain relief option. This is typically administered right before birth, and less popular than the epidural.
  • Gas and air is a pain relief option with few side effects that is commonly used in the United Kingdom.
  • You may be able to receive narcotics through an IV to "take the edge off". Talk about whether these narcotics cross the placenta and can affect your baby with your doctor before deciding on this option for pain relief.
  • Some women choose to have a water birth, which can ease the pain of labor and make contractions slow down somewhat. There are discussions about how effective this is, but those who had water births often report a relatively pain free labor. Alternatively, spending some time in the shower during labor may be pleasant.
  • Hypnobabies or hypnobirthing are self-hypnosis techniques that involve positive affirmations. There is no scientific evidence to show this works, but women who have hypnobirths typically look very calm and peaceful.
  • Walking around in labor or seeking distractions like playing board games or chatting with friends can be great, especially in early labor.
  • For some women, reading a lot about the process of labor and delivery helps them be comfortable with what is happening to their body when they are in labor. When you are not afraid, you may have less pain.

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