Pain Control Techniques for Expecting Mothers
What Natural and Medical Pain Control Techniques Do You Recommend for Expecting Mothers?
There are a lot of different options for pain control techniques during labor and it’s a very personalized choice for different women. Some women prefer to stay away from medications or medical interventions during labor. There are different things that people do during labor itself, such as trying different positioning techniques. I think getting in the tub for a period of time, especially if it’s a lower risk pregnancy, during the early or later phases of labor is great because it helps relax the body and can control pain.
Sometimes people use a birthing ball or allow natural movement during labor too. Women should be allowed to walk around, so they can move as much as possible. This encourages the labor to progress and also helps with the pain.
For some women, this is either not enough or they know off the bat that they want to do something more effective, in terms of medications during labor. We have several different things that we offer at our hospital. One of those can be an IV medication or an IM (intra-muscular) medication, which is like an injection. We use medications, such as Morphine or Phenergan, as an IM injection, especially during the early phases of labor to take the edge off and help women relax. Later in the labor we will use shorter acting IV narcotics, like Fentanyl, that can also help with the pain.
Other women might want an epidural or intrathecal, which numbs the body from about the belly button down and is a very effective method of pain control in labor. The downside to an epidural or intrathecal is that because you’re numb it’s hard to know what your legs are doing so you are not able to walk around as much.
A new option we have to offer at Boone County Hospital is nitrous oxide, which is an inhalable gas, the same one people might think of as laughing gas when they go to the dentist. The nice part is its patient controlled; most people only use it during more intense contractions. They can take an inhalation of the nitrous oxide and breath out the gas. It has a very rapid onset and will be out of the body in a very short period of time. It does work well to help with pain and dissociation, though is maybe less effective in terms of overall pain control, like an epidural. For women hoping to avoid an epidural, either because they didn’t have a great experience with the last one or it just isn’t their cup of tea, nitrous oxide is an excellent alternative.
Some women who are very motivated in terms of avoiding medications and are going for a natural childbirth are going to elect to do something more intense, like hypnobirthing. It does require more time and energy from the beginning and people will have to do some training throughout it, so I suggest for those who are interested in this start early in the pregnancy. It used to only be available for in-person classes, but there’s so much more online information about hypnobirthing, that you are now welcome to take an online course. Some of the meditation techniques are not only helpful during labor, but helpful for some of the other bothersome symptoms that come up during pregnancy. Low back pain, painful uterine contractions that can be intermittent, such as Braxton Hicks contractions, and insomnia are extremely common bothersome symptoms that plague people throughout pregnancy and sometimes the hypnobirthing techniques can help women cope with those along the whole pregnancy and not just during labor.