Birth Stories

Pain meds during labor

I am due in May with my first baby and can't decide if I want to try natural or have pain medications. I am nervous to get the epi because i have heard it causes headaches and backaches for awhile after delivery. What are the options for pain meds during childbirth?
snhoff

Re: Pain meds during labor

  • I had a med free birth for my first pregnancy, but my new docotor went over the options w/me just yesterday. Your other options are a couple different narcotics. They will sometimes take the edge off, but likely won't totally take away the pain. The other warning she threw out there to me is that narcotics will travel through to the baby, so often the baby will come out lethargic, too sleepy to nurse, or (worst case) too tired to breath on his/her own.

    Obviously, we have to hear all of the possible negative side effects, but I found it helpful to hear what the doctor had to say. I have also have several friends tell me the bit about having a narcotic and it not really doing it's job. It made them tired, but still feel everything.

    Best of luck to you!!!

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  • Thank you for the information! Good luck to you too! How was the med free delivery?
  • I had an epidural with zero issues after the fact. Not going to lie the epi hurts like hell when they do it. Med free is not for me. Be sure to talk to your doctor about all of your options.
  • Here is the information have from my midwife:

    Pharmacological Pain relief

    Entonox – Entonox is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen. It is otherwise known as laughing gas.  It is very effective in helping a woman relax and while it doesn't take away all the pain, it does make contractions more bearable.  It is inhaled through a face mask.  It is extremely safe to use and if you don't like it or don't find it effective, it is gone from your system in about 2 minutes.  Occasionally it makes women feel nauseous.  Entonox is brought to your home if you are having a planned homebirth.

    Narcotics:  The narcotics given at the hospital are morphine and fentanyl.  Morphine is given by injection.  Fentanyl is given by IV.  They have approximately the same effectiveness for pain relief and the choice of which one to give depends on where you are in your labour.  For example, if you are in early labour morphine would be given so that you can go home.  Narcotics are particularly effective in early labour, and help you to rest. Whilst your midwife must consult an obstetrician to get the narcotics you remain under midwifery care.  On the downside, some women find that narcotics make them nauseous and very sleepy and it can take up to four hours for it to pass from your system. They are not always effective for relieving back pain. They do pass through your placenta and if the baby is born too soon after the narcotic is given they may have respiratory depression which is corrected by giving the baby a medication called Narcan.  Another risk of using narcotics include problems with breastfeeding as they make babies very sleepy and can suppress the natural urge to latch.

    Epidural: An effective epidural is the best pain relief available and is extremely safe. It gives a loss of sensation and a loss of pain. A tiny amount of narcotic is injected into the 'epidural' space in front of your spinal cord.  (A spinal injection is narcotic injected directly into the fluid around the spinal cord. Sometimes an epidural-spinal combination is given). Once an epidural has been given you are confined to the bed and an electronic fetal monitor (EFM) is used to listen to the baby's heart-rate.  It is relatively safe for the baby (compared to narcotic injection) as it takes a long time for the narcotics to pass into your bloodstream and then through the placenta.  It does not interfere as much with breastfeeding, and an epidural alone does not lead to an increase in cesarean sections (although the increased need to use  oxytocin and the use of EFM are known to do so, as well as care provider impatience).  The most common risks of an epidural are that it doesn't work effectively, may cause a fever, it usually cause itchiness, it may cause your blood pressure to drop and therefore the baby's heart-rate to also drop; it can cause a spinal headache that may last for about 3 weeks; it increases the chance of forceps or vacuum delivery and it increases the risk of shoulder dystocia (a problem getting the baby out).  Far less common (very, very rare in fact), but more serious side effects are paralysis and death.  At CMH once an epidural is given you care is under an obstetrician who will be the person to catch your baby.    Your midwife will return to the hospital when you are pushing to receive the baby.  The nurses will take care of you until six hours after your epidural is removed.


    Stephij1
  • If you are interested in a natural birth, you may want to look into Bradley or hypnobirthing classes. I did Bradley, and found the exercises, labor positions, and relaxation techniques very helpful. Even if you decide to go with the epidural, the you might find the techniques helpful for early labor before you go to the hospital.
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  • I'm a FTM as well.

    I would like to go Med-Free as well, but I do know that it's going to be hard and I may change my mind.

    What I've decided is that (1) I'm getting educated on the pros and cons of all pain relief; (2) I'm going to decide which pain relief I want IF I just cannot handle it anymore; (3) I am asking that the nurses and OB NOT offer me pain meds - since I'm educating myself, I will ask if I want it; (4) I'm asking DH to encourage me to keep going without pain medication, especially if I'm far along and in the transition stage.

    Good uck!
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  • I'm a FTM as well.

    I would like to go Med-Free as well, but I do know that it's going to be hard and I may change my mind.

    What I've decided is that (1) I'm getting educated on the pros and cons of all pain relief; (2) I'm going to decide which pain relief I want IF I just cannot handle it anymore; (3) I am asking that the nurses and OB NOT offer me pain meds - since I'm educating myself, I will ask if I want it; (4) I'm asking DH to encourage me to keep going without pain medication, especially if I'm far along and in the transition stage.

    Good uck!
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    All the Christmas lights!
    christmas animated GIF


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  • FWIW, I had an epi....I had a great experience- no side effects, and the worst part of it was bending over during contractions (the epi itself wasn't too bad, pain wise). I went it with the mindset that since I was a FTM, I wouldn't know what I could handle until I experienced it. I did some reading on natural birth and some research on epis, so I was informed no matter what I decided.

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  • Thank you for all of your responses!
  • I had the epi with no side effects. It all depends on the anesthesiologist IMO. Mine placed it with no pain at all, only felt the initial needle stick of the numbing med that give you right before. The possible side effects also have to do with the placement.
  • I wanted to go med free, but ended up going with the epidural after being in labor for over 30 hours, and not progressing well. Before caving to the epidural, I got two rounds of Stadol. They helped take the edge off of things temporarily, but not much. The insertion of the epidural was nothing compared to the pain of the contractions, I did not even feel it. I had no issues regarding the epi, no headache, no back pain.
  • I would highly recommend reading Husband Coached Childbirth (The Bradley Method). I was interested in a possible natural med-free birth but wasn't confident I could do it and that book changed it for me! I feel excited and empowered about birth now. Also Dr. Bradley is an OB and he says in the book that the epidural gets to the baby in as little as 3 minutes, so an Epi doesn't mean the baby won't be exposed.
  • I had a natural birth the first time. Only because my meds were given too late. I'm glad I felt everything I can use it when reprimanding my son ;) but the short time my Nubian (sp) was working was helpful. It didn't get make the pain go away it just made it a little less. My mom had Nubian with her first 3 and loved it. She didn't want all the pain gone but didn't want to feel like she was dying...if that makes since
  • I had an epidural and had no issues whatsoever. Compared to my contractions, the epidural was a breeze. I just buried my head into DHs chest and before I knew it, meds were flowing and I was in my happy place. Hoping I get the same anesthesiologist this time around!! Had no issues after delivery from the epidural either.
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  • Thank you for all the helpful information. I will ask my ob at my next appointment about my options
    2babymama
  • NewMomma8NewMomma8
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    edited April 23

    I am a FTM, I knew I would have the epi.  They had trouble getting the right spot, and I still don't think it hurt anywhere near what others say. 

    I can tell you this, I'm glad I had it because of unexpected issues.  My bones are slightly misshaped (which we did not know before I started pushing) and we induced, so LO wasn't dropped good yet, so I pushed for 3 hours.  Without the epi and with my bones being misshaped, I would have ended up in a C-Section.  My doctor didn't think LO would be able to get through my bones, but I told her I wasn't quitting until one of us was medically in trouble.  I had her vaginally on 2/24/14, and to this day, had I not had the epi, I don't think I would have been able to push for 3 hours, and rip a 3 out of 4 with as little pain as I had.

    I would just keep the epi in mind, like I said, for unexpected issues arising.  Hopefully everything goes great, and mine turned out that way, but just in case, don't rule it out.  There is nothing wrong with having a medicated birth.


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  • Both scheduled cs so of course epis, but a new study out today reveals 35% of women who go med free end up with PPD, while those who used meds have PPD 10% of the time. Meds and cs are great in my book!


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  • Both scheduled cs so of course epis, but a new study out today reveals 35% of women who go med free end up with PPD, while those who used meds have PPD 10% of the time. Meds and cs are great in my book!

    Source? I would be interested in reading this study.

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