Local anesthetic injection

Description

A local anesthetic might be used to quickly numb the vaginal area if you need an incision to extend the opening of the vagina (episiotomy) or repair a tear after delivery. The medication is injected into the area around the nerves that carry feeling to the vagina, vulva and perineum.

Pros

Local anesthetics temporarily numb a specific area. Negative effects for mother and baby are rare.

Cons

Local anesthetics don't relieve the pain of contractions. An allergic reaction is possible. Rarely, injecting local anesthetics into a vein might produce a toxic reaction, affecting your central nervous system or heart.

Pudendal block

Description

A pudendal block might be used shortly before delivery to block pain between the vagina and anus (perineum). It can also be used to relieve pain during the repair of a tear after delivery. The anesthetic is injected into the vaginal wall near the pudendal nerve and takes effect in 10 to 20 minutes.

Pros

A pudendal block relieves pain in the lower vagina and perineum for up to an hour. Negative effects for the baby are rare.

Cons

A pudendal block might not work or might affect only one side of the perineum. An allergic reaction is possible. Rarely, a pudendal block can cause an infection at the injection site, and injecting the medication into a vein might affect your central nervous system or heart.

Nitrous oxide

Description

Nitrous oxide — an odorless, tasteless gas — is an inhalation analgesic that can be used during labor. You administer the anesthetic gas using a hand-held face mask. Nitrous oxide takes effect within a minute.

Pros

Nitrous oxide can be used intermittently or continuously during labor. You control the amount you use. You'll be able to walk during labor. If you become too drowsy, you'll be unable to continue holding the mask to your face and stop inhaling the anesthetic — a built-in safety mechanism. The effects quickly wear off when you remove the face mask. Nitrous oxide is believed to have little effect on the baby.

Cons

Nitrous oxide doesn't eliminate pain. To experience relief, you'll need to time inhalation of nitrous oxide so that it occurs about 30 seconds before you expect each contraction. You might experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness and drowsiness.

July 08, 2017 See more In-depth