Even before we were old enough to understand where children came from, we have been no strangers to the knowledge that childbirth involves a tremendous amount of pain. For this reason, most women at one time or the other have wondered how they will survive the pain and shudder at the very idea. There is no question that each woman’s pain tolerance threshold is different. Some women are able to breathe through the contractions however painful and then there are others that prefer the pain to be numbed before the delivery actually begins.

A woman may not have control over this and should not feel guilty just because she uses pain relief. Also, do not worry about the safety of medications administered during childbirth as they are deemed safe for both mother and the baby.

What are your pain relief options during childbirth

Local anesthesia

If it happens that you need stitches in and around your vagina as a result of an episiotomy or tearing during childbirth, you may require a local anesthetic to reduce your pain during labor. This anesthetic does not reach the baby in any way and only involves the mother.

Regional anesthesia

This is different from local anesthesia in that it is administered by an anesthesiologist during labor to numb your pain. Regional anesthesia can be either an epidural or spinal. In the case of spinal anesthesia; the medication is injected directly into the dura, which is located right next to the spine. This medication takes effect much more quickly than an epidural does but carries the risk of headaches and low blood pressure. The epidural is injected into the spinal column which is outside the sac surrounding spinal cord.

Very often, patients require the combination of epidural and spinal anesthesia; the decision will be made based on the woman’s overall health and how far the labor has progressed. The procedure can be carried out while the mother is either lying down, on her side or sitting up. These medications are known to make the mom and the baby sleepy, so they are used in the early part of labor in order to help the mother conserve her energy for labor itself.

General anesthesia

This will put you to sleep during the entire process but is very rarely used unless in emergency situations. While this is considered safe, the mother misses the entire birthing process and is unable to see the baby immediately after birth.

How will the anesthesia affect my baby

There has been a considerable amount of research that has gone into studying the effects of both epidural and spinal anesthesia in babies. Studies have shown that both methods are extremely safe for the baby and have no long-term effects. In fact, the anesthesiologist can tailor your regional anesthesia so that you may be able to feel pressure during your contractions which will allow you to begin pushing without experiencing severe pain.