If you want to avoid sharp, shooting pain associated with labor, an epidural can help ease the discomfort. However, keep in mind that an epidural may also limit your ability to move for a period of time. If you have an epidural and cannot get out of bed, putting a peanut-shaped ball between your legs can help your cervix dilate. Using a peanut-shaped ball during the first stages of labor can decrease the length of the dilation stage of your labor and ease the pushing stage of labor. Using a peanut-shaped ball may also reduce the likelihood that you will need a Cesarean section.
General anesthesia is provided only during emergency situations. This form of anesthesia, which is provided by an anesthesiologist through an IV, puts the mother completely to sleep so she does not feel pain.
Intravenous medication can help decrease pain as your dilation advances. Because this option passes to your baby via your placenta, we administer it sparingly.
In some cases, physicians will opt to provide pain relief by injecting local anesthesia medication around the nerves in a small area of the body, such as the perineum, vagina or vulva. Local anesthesia is often used prior to performing an episiotomy or repairing a tear.
To relieve pain during labor and delivery, some women will be given a spinal block, an injection of an anesthetic or narcotic pain medication into the spinal fluid. This regional anesthetic provides short-term pain relief that lasts about two hours. Spinal blocks can be used in complicated births or during a Cesarean section.