There are many options available if you choose pain medication during childbirth. How much and what type of medication depends on your particular labor and delivery experience.
Analgesia (An-al-ges-ia) is a short-lived narcotic given for temporary relaxation. Analgesia does not completely remove the pain but is used early in labor to lessen the intensity of the pain.
There are several types of anesthesia (ana-sthe-sia) used during the active stages of labor. One of the most common types is the epidural (ep-ah-dural). The epidural anesthesia is injected into the base of the spine to temporarily deaden the nerves in the lower half of the body. Another type of anesthesia is known as the spinal block. The spinal block is usually used in a Cesarean section(C-section) so that the mother can be awake during the procedure.
A local anesthetic is most commonly used before an episiotomy (ih-pee-zee-ah-tomy), or the incision of the vagina to aid delivery. A general anesthetic is most commonly used for a C-section when the baby must be delivered immediately.
A combination of relaxation and breathing techniques can be used to relieve and control pain during childbirth.
For additional information, please visit The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website.