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The Pros and Cons of Different Pain Relief Methods During Labour

By Published On: April 7th, 2012

Giving birth is a very natural process but anyone who tells you that it is not quite a painful one is not being honest – or they are a man. Sorry daddies its true – men just have very little idea a lot of the time just what their partner is going through however supportive they are being. However no two labours are alike and the level of that pain and how well a Mum to be can cope with it is not a constant.

All women have the right to effective pain relief in labor if they want it and the decision about what form this should take is one that should be made by the Mum to be – with the advice of her medical staff – and by her alone, no one else is feeling what she is!

Many Mums have no idea what kind of pain relief they might want or need until they are actually in labour. This is perfectly normal and your medical staff will not be surprised if you are unsure. However mid labor is rarely a time when ladies are at their most rational so giving some thought to the pros and cons of the various pain relief options available to you before the big day is essential.

Weigh Up the Options

There are a lot of different ways that women can gain a measure of pain relief during labour. In the early stages of labour non medicinal techniques like controlled breathing, performing various relaxation techniques and moving around can help a great deal. Some women find that a nice bath or a lower back massage from their partner helps while others find that something as simple as plugging themselves into their iPod and listening to their favorite music can be of help at first.

Whatever they may have heard, especially if they have been studying up on “natural childbirth” such things tend to lose their effectiveness once the contractions begin to get stronger and longer and the real hard work begins. This is the point where many women – quite reasonably – begin to ask their medical staff for a little extra help in the form of a drug based pain relief technique.

There are a number of different options available at this point. Gas and air is a mild pain reliever but Mums can control it themselves so this can be helpful in mid labor. Narcotic medications administered by IV, or an epidural or spinal block provide longer lasting, more effective pain relief and for many Mums they provide a very welcome relief and can help give then the strength to keep going with a more positive attitude.

Less traditional options for managing labour pain include hypnosis, acupuncture, water immersion or reflexology and for some ladies they are indeed helpful in assisting them deal with the pain but they will not take it away. If you have planned to make use of these kinds of techniques that is great but their is no shame in trying something more conventional for pain relief if the level of pain becomes unbearable.

Consider the Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons attached to all of the various pain relief options a woman in labour might be offered and you should have an understanding of these before you go into the hospital or birthing centre to give birth:

For example relaxation exercise and breathing techniques are the things that many couples spend months before their baby is due attending classes to learn. Doing so is a great idea as they can be extremely helpful, especially when it comes to keeping Mum’s nerves and panic level in check. Rarely however do they dull the pain, just help Mum better control it. Some medications however can make you feel drowsy and sick while other will mean that your movement is restricted. Discussing all of the pros and cons with your doctor will arm you with the knowledge to make the best decision for you though.

Expect the Unexpected

These days many Mums have a birthing plan that they draw up, often with their doctor, months before Baby is due. Then the big day arrives and Mum finds that labor is much more painful than she had expected, or remembered from the last time. Nature has a great way of making Mums forget just how painful labor was after Baby was born, a good thing really as if that were not the case there would probably be far fewer little bundles of joy in the world.

Deviating from your birthing plan and choosing a pain relief option that you had not planned on using is not a failure. Giving birth is not an endurance test and their is nothing wrong with asking for some help in the form of medicinal pain relief. The one thing that cannot be emphasized enough is that pain relief during labour, and what kind is used is a decision you as the Mum to be should make.

Your doctors and nurses will advise you but will not make that decision for you – unless their is a medical emergency. And as well meaning as partners and friends and relatives might be in offering up advice about whether or not to opt for a certain form of pain relief they should not be allowed to influence your decision too far. After all, there is only you in pain here!