There are many ways to manage pain during labor. These include relaxation techniques, pain medications, and anesthesia. You may plan to use little or no medication, but you may change your mind as labor progresses. Keep in mind that you can always ask for medication if you need it. Your healthcare provider will discuss with you any risks that medication may have.
Managing Pain Without Medication
Many techniques help manage labor pain without using medication. They include:
- Breathing and relaxation techniques, often learned before labor during birth preparation classes.
- A warm tub or shower to help you relax between contractions.
- Massage and therapeutic touch by your support person or labor coach.
- Reading something comforting or inspiring.
- Listening to soothing music.
- Hypnosis, which needs to be learned and practiced before you go into labor.
Controlling Your Discomfort with Analgesics
Analgesics (pain relievers) provide some pain relief without total loss of feeling or alertness. They may lessen discomfort during intense contractions. Analgesics may even allow you to relax enough to sleep between contractions. These medications should have little effect on your baby if given early in labor. They may be given by injection or by IV.