10 Ways to Ease Pain During Labor – Labor Pain Management - Tips On Parenting


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August 6, 2020

10 Ways to Ease Pain During Labor – Labor Pain Management

You have to be aware of lot of things if you are expecting a child. One such big question that every pregnant woman should have knowledge about is pain during labor and the labor pain management options. The feelings and emotions will be mixed with both excitement and nervousness.

10 Ways to Ease Pain During Labor – Labor Pain Management

Luckily there are plenty of labor pain management options that are both medical and non-medical ones to help ease the pain during labor. It is important to understand that each labor and pregnancy differs from women to women and even is different for the women who have already been through all of this before.

Pain during labor is mainly caused by pressure on the cervix and contraction of muscles of uterus. Pain during labor can be experienced in abdomen, back, groin, thighs and on the sides as well. Also, the pressure exerted by baby's head on the bladder and bowels, stretching of vagina and birth canal causes pain during labor.

Its up to you to decide which of the labor pain management options you wish to choose. You can either go for non-medical methods or stick with some medical options recommended by your doctor. Also, based on the progress and development of labor, you can always change the labor pain management options or try a combination for better results.

Questions you need to answer before choosing any of the labor pain management options:

  • What are the possible side of this method?
  • Will it also affect my baby?
  • What will I be restricted to after following it?
  • Will it even work and what if it doesn’t?
  • Will it increase or decrease the labor duration?
  • How quickly can we feel and see the results?

Finding answers to these questions is the first thing you need to do before trying any of the labor pain relief options. It is better to consult your doctor who can guide and assist you in selecting the best labor pain management option.


Here are some of the most common labor pain management option that helps to ease the pain during labor:

1. Epidural

This is probably the most common labor relief option used and has seen some dramatic changes in the last decade. Epidural is a type of local anesthesia that numbs everything below the belly button throughout labor and delivery.


Anesthesiologist gives medicine through a thin and a tiny tube, called catheter. Its not one big needle shot, but continuous flowing drops to ensure that the pain is blocked all along. Some hospitals have even established a mechanism where anesthesiologist first sets it to the baseline level and gives you a button which you can press if you feel pain is becoming unbearable.


As, epidural only numbs the part of the body below belly button, you will be awake and conscious throughout labor. When the baby is ready to come out, you will also be able to push. It usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes for pain medication to work. If you have or have had certain medical condition like back surgery in the past, blood clotting disorder or sepsis, you won't be able to use this labor pain management method.


Every medication has some sort of side effect and epidural is no different. Some of the side effects that you might experience when using this labor pain management option are:

  • Decrease in blood pressure: If your body blood pressure drops down, baby's heart rate slows down. Additional medication can be given by the doctor to maintain normal blood pressure.
  • Headache: Some lasts for few days.
  • Sore back: The part of the lower back where the needle is injected may be sore.
  • Can lengthen second stage of labor.


2. Spinal and Combined Spinal-Epidural (CSE)

As already mentioned, epidural can take up to 15 minutes on average to start working and make the lower part numb. Single injection is given on the lower back part unlike epidural, where the flow is continuous in the form of drops and as per pain and need. It shows it effect within seconds and lasts for about 45 minutes.

10 Ways to Ease Pain During Labor – Labor Pain Management

Pain relief from epidural and CSE are the same and the only difference is how quickly and how long it remains effective for. The risks and side effects are the same as epidural. Doctors recommend and use this labor pain management option on women who are looking for quick relief from labor pain.


3. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS is a method where low-voltage electric currents are used to stimulate nerves in the lower back of a pregnant women. This is a non-medical labor pain relief approach done using a small handheld device. So far, no side effects of TENS have been observed and it can be used alone or can be mixed with other labor pain relief options for best result. Basically, it either change your perception of pain or blocks it.


4. Relaxation

Our brain can play tricks on us and make matters worse if we can't keep it calm and under control. Relaxation is the best weapon to keep your mind under control. The more you tense up and freak out, pain during labor gets worse. You have to always keep yourself focused on your baby and keep your mind off negative thoughts and stay stress free.


5. Breathing

Grunting and slow-deep breaths are two prime examples of breathing techniques that can help you ride the wave of each contraction and through the contraction pain. Always keep check of your breathing pattern same as an athlete or bodybuilder does while lifting weights and doing exercise. If you focus on your breathing, inhale and exhale smoothly, you will feel much better.


Its okay if you make strange, loud and crazy noises. Only you and moms who have been through labor will understand the limit of pain they have to deal with. Low-pitched moans are more effective than high-pitched screams.


6. Massage

10 Ways to Ease Pain During Labor – Labor Pain Management

Another one of the non-medical labor pain management options is massage on the back or feet. It keeps you distracted, feel like being cared and experience relaxation and sensation through your body. This certainly keep your energy high and boosted for what you may face later on.


7. Opioids

Women who don’t want or can't use epidural can try this option of pain management for labor. There are 5 drugs of this class that can be used during the labor to ease the labor pain. Research suggests, 16% of the people use IV opioids during labor. Fentanyl and morphine are the most common ones out of the 5 drugs that are used in this method of pain management for labor.


Outside US, pethidine (Demerol) is the common injectable opioid during labor. Generally, these opioids show quick and long-lasting pain relief if the ideal opioid is selected. This method is preferred more toward the first stage of labor and avoided in the second stage of labor or towards the end.


Side effects in mother may include:

  • Nausea and giddiness.
  • Unable to breastfeed right after birth.
  • Drowsiness and vomiting.
  • Reduced breathing.


Side effects in baby may include:

  • Change in baby's heart rate.
  • Reflexes may get depressed.
  • Effect and slow down baby breathing.


8. General Anesthesia

Only option among all the labor pain management options where you lose complete consciousness. The results and effects can be seen quickly and is used only in case of emergency C-Section or any sort of medical condition of concern.


9. Water Therapy

Another one of the non-medical labor and delivery pain management options where warm water is used to ease the pain during labor. It might feel like you are in a spa where a doula keeps pouring warm water (at 100-degree F) on the shoulders as you step into the tub of warm water. It will keep you relaxed and divert your mind of pain at the birthing center.


10. Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is an odorless and tasteless gas, also know as laughing gas is used by some hospitals as a labor analgesic (drug to get relieve from pain). The gas is mixed with oxygen and then the mother inhales it through a face mask or a tube connected to her mouth.


It takes few seconds to show its effect and thus it is ideal to inhale the gas mixture 30 seconds before contraction starts. You are in charge of the mask and decide when you will inhale the gas.


Some problems that you might face when using Nitrous Oxide are:

  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Confusion.
  • Lack of pain relief when not inhaled before contraction starts.


Pros and Cons of different labor pain relief options

Each and every method has its pros and cons. The natural ones like breathing and relaxation techniques helps keep you distracted from the labor pain but in no way does it dull the pain.


The medication approach makes contractions less painful but may give or lead to some side effects. Some medication even requires you to stay on bed or maintain certain position and posture.


How to prepare for labor and delivery?

  • It won't be easy but your focus, awareness and determination will control what you will experience.
  • If you are having your first baby, learn, be open and flexible to all the labor pain management options.
  • The range and level of pain differs from women to women. So, you don’t need to use the same labor pain relief option that someone you know have used or you have used during your previous labor and delivery.
  • Never hesitate to ask or explain how you feel and what you need.
  • Doctors will be there, but a family member, friend or you partner by your side will lift your energy and boost your confidence.


Bringing a new life to this world is a hard work and so, it is called labor. You don’t have to chose one, you always have labor pain management options on the table. A plan is important and can be extremely helpful in the journey before you face it. You may expect one thing but something unexpected may happen, so always be ready to face the unexpected. If you are having trouble deciding which of the labor and delivery pain management options is the best for you, consult and take advice from your doctor.