Labor and Delivery — Pain Free or Drug Free? Know Your Options

by | Mar 18, 2016

Our Oklahoma birth injury attorneys discuss drug-free and pain-free labor and delivery options.

Each expectant mother handles her labor and delivery differently. While some moms want to have a natural childbirth with no drugs, others choose to use pain medications. Regardless of what alternative a mother chooses, it is important that she is well informed of all of her options, and understands the risks associated with each. If you are an expectant mother, the following reviews some pain management options for labor and delivery, as well as associated risks. You should always discuss with your doctor the best option or your delivery.

Drug-Free Pain Management Methods and Labor Support

There are different drug-free pain management and labor support methods that a woman may choose. Ranging from different positions to breathing techniques, drug-free pain management is possible. Two of the most popular drug-free pain management methods are:

The Lamaze Method.
Lamaze Method The Lamaze concept holds that women have the right to natural and drug-free childbirth, and implements a number of healthy birth practices that are designed to help the birthing process go as smoothly as possible while maximizing the mother’s comfort. According to org, healthy birth practices include letting labor begin on its own, walking around and changing positions throughout labor, bringing a friend or doula for support, avoiding giving birth on your back and following your body’s natural urges, and keeping mother and baby together immediately following the birth.

The Lamaze method recommends a number of positions and movements for labor, as well as tips for managing labor including practicing rhythmic breathing, taking a warm shower or bath, continually moving, indulging in gentle massage, and finding a soothing environment.

The Bradley Method.
Bradley MethodThe Bradley Method is an approach to natural childbirth that many women choose. During a 12-week course, expecting mothers and their partners learn about a variety of topics associated with pregnancy and giving birth, including nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, the role of a coach or doula, the stages of labor, relaxation exercises, birth plans, and more. How to avoid unnecessary pain in labor is a large component of the Bradley method. Read more about this method at com.

Other natural ways to relieve labor pain.
Water BirthMany people will choose one of the two methods above when giving birth. However, there are many women who choose to give birth without pain medications and who do not use the Lamaze or Bradley techniques. Other natural ways to relieve labor pain, according to the March of Dimes Foundation, include sitting upright, squatting, sitting in a bathtub, getting on your hands and knees, and rocking back and forth. Water therapy, massage, and breathing techniques can all help as well.

What Are the Risks of Natural Birth?

Perhaps the biggest risk that mothers face when choosing natural childbirth is the risk of severe pain. Sometimes, pain can be so overwhelming that it distracts the woman and has a negative effect on the birthing process. For women who want to have a completely natural birth with no medical interventions whatsoever – such as heart rate monitoring of the baby – the other risk is that if something does go wrong, it will go undetected.

What Are the Benefits of Natural Birth?

There are also many benefits associated with giving birth naturally. For example, women who use epidurals may have complications, such as trouble urinating, difficulty moving, fever, and sometimes dangerously low blood pressure. The labor stage is also usually prolonged when an epidural is used, which may be less beneficial for the child. Research suggests that babies are more alert and begin breast-feeding more easily when born naturally as well.

Medical Pain Assistance During Childbirth

Some women understandably choose pain relief because the pain of natural childbirth is unbearable. It is an individual choice, and this option is perfectly acceptable, too. It is important that women fully understand all of their options.

An epidural is when anesthesia is injected directly into the spine, thereby bypassing the bloodstream. By doing so, the procedure is made safer for the baby. An epidural numbs the entire lower half a woman’s body, which means that they will not feel pain during contractions or delivery. 
Spinal block
Spinal block.
A spinal block is not commonly used during vaginal deliveries anymore, although the procedure was once popular. During a spinal block, a single dose of anesthetic is administered just prior to giving birth. It is designed for those who did not have an epidural, but would still like to alleviate pain during birth. It is administered in almost the same manner as is an epidural – into your spine rather than your bloodstream.
Rather than getting anesthesia, you may choose to take analgesics, or pain relieving drugs. The two most common analgesics that are given are Demerol and tranquilizers, both of which are typically administered through a shot in the buttocks.
Nitrous oxide
Nitrous oxide.
You probably know of nitrous oxide by its more colloquial name: laughing gas. Nitrous oxide is commonly used in the dentist’s office, although when administered when a woman is having a baby, the process is different.

What Are the Risks of the Above?

There are multiple risks to pursuing any of the methods above. For anesthesia – in the form of an epidural or spinal blocks – risks include a sudden drop in blood pressure, difficulty urinating, permanent nerve damage in rare cases, and breastfeeding difficulties. Using an epidural also increases the risk of a woman requiring medical intervention later in her labor.

For analgesics, the risks may be more pronounced because the medication is injected directly into the bloodstream, and therefore can affect the baby. In some cases, the baby’s heart rate may drop, or the baby may be extremely sleepy and unable to nurse.

What Are the Benefits of Pain Assistance During Childbirth?

Of course, there are benefits associated with pain assistance during childbirth as well. Most notably, a lack of pain for the woman can allow her to focus on her pregnancy and enjoy the experience more. Pain medication can also be helpful in the event that any emergency procedures are necessary.

Birth Injury Attorneys Ready to Serve You

There are dozens of labor support techniques, as well as pain management risks and benefits that a woman needs to consider before giving birth. The birth injury attorneys at Burch, George & Germany, P.C. are here to assist you in the event that something goes wrong during the birthing process and your baby is injured. To learn more about birth injuries and medical malpractice, contact us today.