Coronavirus, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients from ACOG

Se Habla Español

Pain Management Options for Labor

woman in labor; blog: pain management options for labor


If you’re expecting, you’ve likely thought about the labor process and want to make sure you are well-prepared for when that day comes. Something important you must consider is how you are going to manage pain when giving birth. Pain management options are broken down into two main groups, unmedicated pain management and medication-assisted. We’ll dive deeper into each group below.

What are Drug-Free Pain Management Options for Labor?

If you’d like an unmedicated labor, you must begin preparing long before you go into labor. Step one is to stay active during your pregnancy, as long as your doctor approves you to do so. Your increased activity will give you increased endurance and strength, which will aid you during childbirth.

Additional approaches to an unmedicated childbirth include the following:

  • Lamaze Method: Breathing and relaxation exercises that help during childbirth by reducing the perception of pain.
  • Bradley Method: Involves another person, usually the father, to assist in managing pain during childbirth. It also normally consists of classes that teach nutrition, relaxation, exercise, and breathing techniques. This method can also be used in conjunction with medication during childbirth.

What are Medication Options for Pain Management During Childbirth?

Medication options for childbirth include two main types:

  • Anesthetics: Blocks pain and all other feeling.
  • Analgesics: Limits pain, but you can still feel. Different types of analgesics can affect different parts of your body. Some will affect your whole body while others may only affect your vaginal areas or lower body.

What is an Epidural Block?

Epidural blocks, commonly known as epidural are one of the more common types of pain relief medications that are used during labor in the United States. Epidural can be used during vaginal birth or c-section birth. It involves a doctor injecting medicine into the area of your lower back and takes about 15 minutes to become effective.

Epidural blocks are considered analgesics as they reduce pain experienced labor but still allow you to feel and remain alert. Epidurals may cause side effects such as itching, fever, reduced blood pressure, or difficulty peeing. 

What is a Spinal Block? 

Spinal blocks are more commonly used in c-section births. A spinal block entails a medication injected in your lower back. The effects of a spinal block start a couple of minutes after the injection and normally last from one to two hours. Spinal blocks have similar side effects as epidural blocks.

A combination of the epidural block and spinal block, called a combined spinal-epidural (CSE), can also be used for pain management during childbirth.

Other Options to Relieve Labor Pain?

There are various other medication and non-medication forms for pain management such as: 

  • IV Analgesics
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Heat or Cold Therapy
  • Rhythmic Breathing
  • Averting Focus: Music, Imagery, Conversation

Contact City of Oaks Midwifery

At City of Oaks Midwifery, your individualized birthing plan matters to us. If you have additional questions about your pain management options for labor, call (919) 351-8253 to make an appointment at one of our three offices in Raleigh, Clayton, or Cary, NC. You can also request an appointment online.

« »
Why a Midwife?
In the News
Group Prenatal Care
What to Expect

Request Appointment

Conveniently Located