Pros and Cons of Pain Relief during Labor

This article is going to discuss natural forms of pain relief in labor and delivery rooms. It is a topic not given much attention but very important for women to know because it is a valid option. First, let me explain a little history of birth in North America. In the early and mid-twentieth century laboring women where typically admitted to hospital once labor began and given an anesthetic to numb the pain. This was the standard practice, and not much choice was involved on the womens part. Women labored alone and the fathers were not allowed in the delivery room. Can you imagine how much more tense the women would feel without a partner to comfort her during her first childbirth experience? No wonder medication was a standard practice.

By the late 1960s mothers were allowed to have birth partners or husbands attend to them in the laboring room and the room was designed to be more homey and calming. Women were starting to change their view on birth and see it as a natural part of life and not a medical procedure that needs interventions.

Today a small portion of women choose to have a midwife perform the delivery of their child outside a hospital setting in a relaxed home-like environment. They opt out of all medications for pain relief and rely on natural methods as well as preparatory exercises during pregnancy. In “Children: A chronological approach” by Robert V. Kail and Theresa Zolner, it states that Ryerson University midwifery program did a study to find out that four out of five births worldwide are delivered by midwives.

The natural pain relief method of birth relies on preparatory classes during pregnancy to teach women the skills that are natural for them to use in delivery of their babies.  The concept of the classes is to teach mothers and fathers the basics of what happens during birth so that they are aware of whats going to happen and feel confident and relaxed, as opposed to afraid of the unknown. The majority of the classes teach women about handling pain. Natural methods are emphasized more because medications can make a womens abdominal muscles weak and less capable of pushing the baby out, this is stated in “Children: A chronological approach”. Another reason why the use of medications often leads to multiple interventions and cesarean deliveries that would not have been needed with natural pain relief education. Furthermore, without the ability to push the baby out, the physician is forced to used mechanical tools such as forceps, which can damage the baby, to remove the baby from the birth canal. Also, drugs given during labor can cross the placenta and affect the baby in various such as tiredness, grogginess, and irritability for days.

The main technique of natural birth is to help a women learn to relax when she feels tense. The pregnant woman is taught deep breathing, visual imagery, and how to get assistance of a supportive coach. Mothers and fathers who attend childbirth classes usually feel more relaxed for the labor and more prepared as well they tend to use less medication if any during the labor and delivery.

This article is not intended to criticized anyone who chooses to have medication during labor and delivery of her baby. It is just providing information on the other options besides medication that are rarely presented to a pregnant woman. A pregnant woman deserves to know all her options and it is her right to make the best choice for her body and her baby. Happy Birth and Congratulations!