Pain Management During Labor and Delivery


Medication is a big decision for anyone facing labor and delivery. If you are concerned about labor pain and worried about how you will handle it, you're not alone. The best way to cope is to become informed of the options available to you. Your doctor or anesthesiologist may discuss the following options with you:

Systemic Analgesia
Injection into a vein that will provide relief from pain without a total loss of feeling. May cause drowsiness or lack of concentration.
Local Anesthesia
An injection that numbs a small area. You may be given a local anesthetic if you need an episiotomy to avoid a tear in the perineum. Local anesthesia rarely affects the baby.
General Anesthesia
Causes total loss of consciousness and is sometimes used for Cesarean births.
Pudendal Block
Injection given straight into the vagina near the pelvic region shortly before delivery that anesthetizes the local perineum. This is one of the safest forms of pain management.
Paracervical Block
A local anesthetic that is injected into the tissue around the cervix to relieve dilating pains and pains from uterine contractions. Wears off quickly and sometimes slows the baby's heartbeat.
Epidural Block
An injection into the back that causes some loss of feeling in the lower half of the body. An epidural block will lessen pain from contractions, as well as the pain in the vagina when the baby emerges. Epidurals are one of the most popular forms of pain relief.
Spinal Block
An injection into the lower back. With a spinal block, you have to stay in bed since sitting up to quickly may cause spinal fluid to leak out of your lower spine, giving you a bad headache. Pain relief may only last one or two hours, and the mother's blood pressure may drop, which could slow the baby's heartbeat.