When it comes to managing labor pain, some expecting moms prefer to deal with the pain of childbirth naturally
, using breathing and relaxation techniques. Others decide from the start to use pain medication to help manage labor pain. One option for pain medication during labor is to use narcotics (also called analgesics or opioids).
- Narcotics affect the whole nervous system, instead of just one area.
- They are given through an intravenous (IV) catheter (a small tube that is inserted into a vein) or by injecting the medicine into the muscle.
- The medication lowers pain and makes it easier to rest.
- Narcotics can be given anytime during labor, but work best during early labor when the cervix isn’t fully dilated.
- The medicine can be injected into the buttocks or thigh muscles.
- Narcotics can also be given through an IV catheter.
- Sometimes, you may be able to control your own pain relief by pushing a button that releases a fixed amount of medicine through the IV tube and into your body.
- Pain relief begins within minutes.
- You remain conscious throughout labor and into delivery.
- Pain relief can last between 2 and 6 hours, depending on how it's given.
- Narcotics allow you to rest.
- Narcotics lessen your pain and take effect quickly.
- They help you rest without causing muscle weakness or lowering your ability to push.
- In some cases, you can control how much medication you use during labor.
- Narcotics can be used with other pain medications like an epidural or spinal.
- Narcotics may leave you feeling sleepy.
- They may cause nausea.
- If too much medication is used, it can temporarily slow down breathing for both mom and baby.
- The medication cannot be given right before delivery because it may slow the baby's breathing and heart rate at birth.
Labor pain affects each woman differently. Some women may have a mild discomfort and others may experience intense pain. If you try natural childbirth and during labor you begin thinking about using pain medication or anesthesia to cope with labor pain, know that it's okay to change your mind. Don't feel like you let your baby down or gave up. Only you know how strong the pain feels. It's okay to talk with your provider and do what you think is best.