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Pain Management


Monitoring a Patient in OB

Your Options

One of the biggest choices facing expectant parents is the type of pain management they will use for labor and birth.

The physiological reasons for pain are obvious: the muscles of the uterus stretch, pull up, and thin out to created the cervical changes of effacement and dilatation. There is also discomfort from increased pressure on the pelvic bones as the baby moves down the pelvis and through the birth canal. Knowing the reasons for pain in childbirth are important to considering pain management options.


OB monitor


Today, you are able to choose a variety of options to cope with pain-non-pharmacological options (positioning, water, breathing, relaxation), medication, (analgesics), epidural and/or local (anesthetics) or a combination of any or all of these options.  Each has a correct time, a correct dose, a correct route of administration, and a correct purpose.

Many medications have some side effects which will impact what and when you might be able to receive the medication. For example, it is usually recommended that the cervix be dilated to 4-5 centimeters, and labor well established, before receiving an epidural, so that labor does not slow down.

Consider all options

It is important that you consider all pain relief options-both those using medications and those without.  Think about how you respond to pain now, and think about what you can do in labor to work with the pain and cope with contractions.  Know the options available to you, and discuss your ideas/concerns with your labor support person and health care provider.

Be sure to practice relaxation, breathing techniques, and other labor coping techniques daily.  They will not only help prepare and condition you for labor, but also prepare you for your role as a parent!

A Quick Guide to Cope with Labor

  • Try a massage/effleurage
  • Quiet music/low lights
  • Warm shower/whirlpool
  • Imagery
  • Prayer/scripture or other special verse
  • Presence of dad and other
  • Support         
  • Medication
  • Concentration
  • Try breathing at different levels....
    - Cleansing breath
    - Slowly breath In-out
    - Patterned-paced-(breathing with counting  or  a special phrase)
  • Focus on the positive outcome (the baby!)
  • Focus on dad and other support
  • Positioning
  • Go for a walk
  • Try the squat bar
  • Get in hands/knee position
  • Lean forward
  • Side-lying
  • The lunge
  • Use a birthing ball
  • Try slow dancing
  • Try the rocking chair

Notice: The information contained on this webpage is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. The Expert Knowledge Network and Saint Francis Healthcare Campus assume no responsibility for how this information is used. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained on this page is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.

CHI St. Francis Health, 2400 St. Francis Drive, Breckenridge, MN 56520