July 15, 2019
Epidural Isn't the Only Option for Pain Relief
By: Cara Terreri | 0 Comments
Getting an epidural for pain relief during birth is pretty common -- 67% of people get one -- but it's not the only option, and it's not always the best option for everyone. Learning about all of your options for pain relief and comfort -- well before you're in the labor and delivery room -- allows you to choose what's best for you, and switch up pain relief techniques when needed.
Pros and Cons of Epidurals
Like all medical procedures, an epidural has pros and cons that are smart to consider.
- Can provide effective pain relief
- Easy to access in most hospitals
- May promote progress in previously slow labors
- Restricted movement
- Disruption of hormones needed for labor
- Longer pushing stage
- Concerning changes blood pressure and baby's heart rate
- Potential challenges with breastfeeding
- Risk of spinal headache, itching, nausea, and vomiting
Alternatives to Epidural
There are other, less invasive ways to find effective pain relief and comfort in labor. Learn about the alternatives, including their pros and cons, by reading a good childbirth book or taking a childbirth class.
- Doula support and/or effective partner support
- Alternate positions
- Gentle massage
- Warm shower or bath
- Focused breathing
- Warm pack, cool compress, or ice pack on painful areas
If you decide to have an epidural for pain relief, you can keep your birth as safe and healthy as possible by:
- Informing your care provider that you want to delay the epidural and communicating your pain management preferences with the nursing staff
- Talking to your nurses about helping you move and change positions during labor to keep baby moving
Get Information with Targeted Questions
Get the information you need through specific questions with your care providers before labor and birth, including nursing staff, doctors, and midwives. Ask things like:
- What are the potential side effects and risks involved?
- What are my pain management alternatives in my chosen birth setting?
- What options are provided to women laboring without an epidural?
- Do you support using a doula to help me manage my pain?
For more information on epidurals, check out the following Lamaze resources:
What to Know About Epidurals
If You Have an Epidural: How to Keep Your Body and Labor Moving
Pregnancy and Birth Decision Guides
TagsInterventions Epidural Pain Relief Comfort in labor