It's important to some moms to try for an all-natural, drug-free delivery. And to those moms, I say -- you go, girls!
Other mamas know they want the epi ASAP. And regardless of plans or preferences, sometimes the unexpected happens. Either way, it's a good idea to be educated about the various pain relief options before you deliver (and to discuss them with your doc.)
Here's the lowdown on the different drugs offered during labor.
Epidural Block -- Epidurals are the most common method of pain relief during labor -- they're used in more than half of all births. In order to cause a loss of feeling in the lower part of your body, a combination of pain meds is injected into the lower back (into a small space outside the spinal cord) and a soft catheter is inserted. After the needle is withdrawn, the medicine can be given continuously or in small doses through the tube as long as needed.
Spinal Block -- Often used during difficult deliveries and C-sections. The medicine is only given one time in your back and only lasts for 1 - 2 hours.
Walking Epidural -- Similar to the regular epi, but the anesthesiologist pulls the needle back into the epidural space, threads a catheter through the needle, and then withdraws the needle leaving the catheter in place. It decreases pain but will allow you to move your legs -- although you probably won't actually be walking around.
Local Anesthesia -- aka a Pudendal Block. Pain meds are injected directly into the delivery zone (um, ouch!), numbing your vaginal and rectal areas. This is done to help with the pain of delivery in general or to numb the area for an episiotomy.
For more deets and info on the pros and cons of the epi, read the full article.
And for more on labor and delivery, check out:
-- Childbirth tips from a labor and delivery nurse
-- Choosing a home birth
-- Tips for a drug-free delivery
-- Ricki Lake on Your Best Birth
What's your preference when it comes to pain relief during childbirth?