If you're pregnant, you're probably wondering how labor will feel. How much will it hurt? What can you do to relieve labor discomfort? What are your medical and non-medical options for managing contraction pain?
Pregnant women tend to have a long list of questions about managing labor pain. Fortunately, our care providers at Westover Hills Women’s Health in San Antonio, Texas, have answers to all of your questions.
Board-certified OB/GYN Houmam Al-Hakeem, MD, and our caring team of certified nurse midwives take labor pain seriously and make sure our patients have the information they need about labor pain management.
Here, we share some basic information about pain relief during labor. This information can provide a starting point for discussion with one of our team members.
A normal process
Labor pain results primarily from contractions, which are the muscular squeezes that your body uses to push your baby down through the birth canal and out into the world. Although contractions are a completely natural occurrence during labor, they can feel quite painful.
We can help you manage pain with non-medical and medical strategies.
Non-medical pain relief options
Relaxation strategies can release tension in your body and your mind during labor. As your body lets go of tension, your contractions may feel less intense. And as your mind feels more relaxed, you may feel better equipped to cope with pain.
Some types of relaxation strategies that help disperse mind-body tension during labor include:
- Doing deep breathing or other breathing exercises
- Doing gentle yoga
- Listening to music
- Moving (such as walking or gentle stretching)
- Receiving a massage
- Relaxing in a warm bath
- Using ice or heat on your body
Some relaxation strategies are effective only when you practice them during the weeks or months before delivery. For example, you're unlikely to feel useful results if you try to teach yourself meditation while you're in labor.
Medical pain relief options
Every labor is different. Some women cope well with pain using only non-medical pain relief options. Others prefer to use medication to help with pain.
Many factors contribute to pain, including the size of your baby, the length of your labor, whether this is your first delivery, fatigue, and so on. There’s no shame in choosing to use medical pain relief.
Some of the medical options include:
Epidural and spinal block
We inject these types of pain relief into your lower back.
Inhaling this gas through a mask relaxes you and makes it easier for you to cope with painful contractions.
We administer these systemic pain relievers through an IV line. They help calm you and reduce your overall sensation of pain.
Each of these medical pain relief interventions has pros and cons. If you are considering medication for help with pain, we talk with you about your options and give you the information you need to make the right choice for you and your baby.
Comprehensive pregnancy and childbirth care
We’re here to help you with all of your pregnancy and childbirth needs. To schedule a visit at one of our two San Antonio, Texas, offices, call us today or use our online tool to book an appointment.