Other options for pain relief during childbirth

Obstetrician Gynecologist Lauren Hyman, MD, describes pain control alternatives to epidurals.
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Other options for pain relief during childbirth

A lot of women wonder if there are alternatives besides an epidural from pain control during labor. Well, an epidural is the most commonly used medication for pain control during labor process. There are some other options. Narcotics, either given through the IV or intramascularly can be used. But, in doses high enough for the narcotics to really be effective, the mother can be very sedated. Narcotics take the edge off, but they don't really help control the labor pain and, again, the sedation is an issue especially in the second stage of labor when the woman has to have energy to push. In addition, if the narcotics have been given to closely to the birth of the baby, the baby can also be sedated and might need medication to reverse the effects of the narcotics. The narcotics can differ as far as their strength, how long they act, and whether or not they are given with another agent to help with nausea that the narcotics can bring on. In the second stage of labor with pushing in the actual delivery of the baby, the doctor can also inject a pudendal shot in to the pudendal nerve. This is an anesthetic that's, again, injected in the pudendal nerve that can help with pain relief in the pelvis in the second stage of labor. Finally, if the woman delivered without an epidural and has a tear or episiotomy that needs to be repaired, the doctor, midwife, can inject local anesthetic in to the perineum so the woman doesn't feel the stitches being placed to help with her repair. At the end of the day, narcotics, a pudendal injection, the local lidocaine are all alternatives to the epidural if someone needs a pain reliever that's different from epidural for some reason cannot have an epidural.

Obstetrician Gynecologist Lauren Hyman, MD, describes pain control alternatives to epidurals.


Expert Bio

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Lauren D. Hyman, MD

Obstetrician Gynecologist

Dr. Lauren Hyman is a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist. After receiving her ScB from Brown University and her medical degree from Yale University, Dr. Hyman returned to Southern California where she has been in private practice in the West Hills area for fifteen years. She can be seen weekly on Hallmark Channelʼs Home and Family Pregnancy Series and is a contributing writer on mom.me. She lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.

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