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Great Expectations – 49

Many mothers who have attended “natural childbirth classes” require little or no pain medication. Other patients request specifc types of anesthesia to relieve the pain of childbirth. Your healthcare provider’s role in your labor is to attempt to keep you and your baby from having a complication related to either the childbirth process or the pain-relieving process of labor.

All expectant mothers and their sup­port persons are encouraged to attend a prepared childbirth class. This will serve to educate you about the birth process and take away fears. The classes will serve every laboring couple, even though some may elect an anesthetic. Each person has a different tolerance to pain and you should not feel a sense of failure if you request, or your healthcare provider suggests, medication for pain relief.

Many types of medications and anesthetics are available to reduce the discomfort of childbirth. There is not a single technique of pain relief that is appropriate for everyone.

After labor begins, your healthcare provider will give careful instructions about the dosage and timing of the various medications (if required) so as not to slow your labor or cause your baby to be sleepy at birth. If you desire not to take pain medication, please inform them prior to or during labor.

Each woman’s labor is unique and the amount of pain felt by one woman can be quite different than that felt by another woman. Each may require different techniques to get pain relief.

Anesthesia and

Pain Relief

Two Major Types of Anesthesia:

Regional Anesthesia is given in the birth canal or the lower region of the back near the spinal cord. The different locations of administration produce various numbing effects.

Local and Pudendal Blocks – anesthetic given just prior to the birth to numb the lower birth canal.

Paracervical Block – anesthetic injected into the cervix to partially relieve pain during labor. It is rarely used today. • Spinal or Saddle Block – anesthetic injected into the lower back just prior to the birth producing numbness of the lower abdomen, legs and birth canal.

Epidural Block – anesthetic injected through a catheter in the lower back producing numbness of the lower abdomen, legs, and birth canal. General Anesthesia is not frequently used for vaginal births unless a complication arises. It is more often used for Cesarean births in emergency situations.

Levels of numbness created by regional anesthesia (spinal or epidural blocks)

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