When a woman finds out she is pregnant, she will begin the internal debate about whether or not to use anesthesia during the labor process. Many women feel that natural childbirth is the only way to go until they begin labor and realize just how painful the birthing process can be. It is important to weigh all of your options when it comes to pain relief during labor. There are safe and effective methods of pain relief that allow motto focus on pushing rather than the pain of the baby moving out of the body through the birth canal.

There are 4 types of anesthesia currently used in the laboring process:

Intravenous or Intramuscular Drugs

Drugs are most often given to calm mom during the birthing process and relieve some of the pain associated with pushing the baby out of the womb. However, the drugs may have a negative effective on both baby and mom. Pain relieving and calming drugs will often make mom sleepy and thus make baby sleepy. Mom will not be able to push as hard during the birthing process if she is sleepy and baby may not suckle well after birth.

Local Anesthesia

Local Anesthesia is used in pregnancy is generally the same type of medication used during dental procedures. Depending on where the local shot is placed, numbness of the lower body or local numbness (as used in an episiotomy), will ease the pain from labor.

Spinal Anesthesia

Spinal anesthesia is a blocking pain reliever often used in cesarean sections. The spinal anesthesia numbs the entire lower half of the body and can numb all the way to the neck in certain cases. There is no feeling in the lower half of the body which leaves mom unable to feel when she should push during vaginal labor. The spinal anesthesia is placed directly into the spinal cord and relieves all pain immediately. The spinal is a onetime pain reliever that is injected with no continuous relief. However, the pain relief will only last at full strength for about 1 hour before it starts to wear off.

Epidural Anesthesia

Epidural anesthesia is the most commonly used form of pregnancy and labor anesthesia. In an epidural a small catheter is placed into the spinal cord. Pain relieving medications can be administers and regulated through that small catheter. An epidural takes a bit of time to begin working, but offers the doctor and care givers the option to increase the medication as needed or decrease the medication is mom is having trouble pushing.

Pain relief during labor is an important choice for mom. She will want to enjoy the laboring process yet keep baby healthy and safe. Anesthesia options should always be discussed with the obstetrician caring for the mom and baby and with the anesthesiologist in the hospital. There are safe choices for anesthesia during labor and mom will have to weigh those options before giving birth to baby.