Expect the unexpected
Labor and delivery can be unpredictable. Labor pain might be more intense than you expected, or it might hurt in a different way. Even if you have a plan for managing labor pain, you might change it as labor progresses — or your labor might prompt your health care provider to suggest a pain relief option that wasn't in your original plan.
Keep in mind that birth isn't a test of endurance. You won't have failed if you ask for pain relief. One thing is certain: The more you learn about options for managing labor pain, the more prepared you'll be to handle labor — however it unfolds.
Things to consider before you choose
So what's the bottom line on managing labor pain? Think about what appeals to you, and ask your health care provider these questions:
- What's involved in the method?
- How will it affect me? Will I be able to walk, or will I be confined to bed?
- How will it affect my baby?
- What are the possible side effects?
- How quickly will it work? How long will the pain relief last?
- Can I combine it with other methods of pain relief?
- When during labor is the method available?
- What if it doesn't work?
- Will I remember everything?
- Will it increase the duration of my labor?
- Will I be able to breast-feed my baby after delivery?
Plan to have your spouse, partner, family member, friend or doula serve as a support person during your labor. Review your plan with this person and your health care team when you arrive at the hospital or birthing center to give birth.
July 06, 2017
See more In-depth
- Q&A: Pain management during childbirth. American Society of Anesthesiologists. http://www.lifelinetomodernmedicine.com/Anesthesia-Topics/QA-Pain-Management-During-Childbirth.aspx. Accessed May 5, 2017.
- Lothian JA. Preparation for labor and childbirth. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 5, 2017.
- Anesthesia options for labor and delivery: What every expectant mother should know. American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. http://www.aana.com/forpatients/Pages/Anesthesia-Options-for-Labor-and-Delivery-What-Every-Expectant-Parent-Should-Know.aspx. Accessed May 5, 2017.
- Grant GJ. Adverse effects of neuraxial analgesia and anesthesia for obstetrics. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 5, 2017.
- Simkin P, et al. Nonpharmacological approaches to management of labor pain. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 5, 2017.