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Pain management during labor

Pain management during labor

Join me to discuss different options for pain relief in labor. Have questions about how an epidural works, ways to manage pain without drugs, or if laughing gas is the next trend in making contractions less painful? This is the place to get your answers! If you want to share what did or didn’t work for you, we’d love to hear it too. I look forward to chatting with you!

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  1. Experienced laborers – we’d love to hear from you too! Let us know what worked well for you!

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  2. Hi everyone! Welcome to our community chat about pain management in labor. One of the things moms-to-be worry about most is whether or not labor will hurt. If you are expecting a little one, is this a concern for you? What are your plans for pain relief in labor, or are you not sure?

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  3. Great topic! I have many friends who were set on an epidural their whole pregnancy until I unexpectedly developed HELLP syndrome and had to deliver sans epidural! Scared some of them – no one ever told them there may be a reason you CAN’T have an epidural during labor. I think planning for multiple scenarios, especially your first time around, is a great idea. I wanted an unmedicated birth anyway, but I had the epidural on order just in case. Even with my second, I knew I would likely not be allowed the epidural, but you never know how things are going to go or how much pain you’ll be able to tolerate in the moment. I had HELLP again, so still no epidural, but I will continue to have one on order for future deliveries, just in case!

    I am definitely interested in hearing more about laughing gas during labor. Although, I cried instead of laughed the last time I had it for my wisdom teeth in college! Haha!

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    1. Yes, there are definitely a few cases where an epidural may not be possible – some include HELLP syndrome like you mentioned (where platelets are too low to safely place an epidural – it could lead to bleeding in the spinal cord) or certain types of severe scoliosis or spinal surgery. This is where knowing other options can be helpful!

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  4. Laughing gas – Also known as nitrous oxide – has been used in labor since the 1940s/50s in Europe and is still popular there today. Three hospitals currently offer it in the US with many more considering bringing it back.

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    1. This method works by mom holding a mask up to her face shortly before a contraction and breathing in theoc of nitrous and oxygen. The effect is very quick, and wears off quickly too, so it can be used even as a woman is pushing without the worry that her baby will end up sleepy. It isn’t as effective as an epidural but many studies show women are quite satisfied with this method!

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  5. If you’ve given birth before, how did you manage pain? Were you happy with how it turned out, or wish you’d tried something different?

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    1. With my first, my mentality was “What I don’t know won’t hurt me!” Which may not have been the best method. 😉 I was much better prepared the second time around, since I knew more or less what to expect. As I said before, I did not have an epidural with either. I was given some pain meds through my IV the first time, but I lost 2 hours of my memory, and DO NOT ever want to do that again. Granted, nothing hurt, but I don’t remember full conversations I had during that time, and that’s an awful feeling to me. With the second, contractions were really manageable until about an hour or so before my water broke. They started to get more intense. For me, I was confined to the bed because I was on magnesium and some antibiotics and whatnot, so I would relax my whole body except my arms. Every contraction, I would grab the bed rails and push out as hard as I could, but I kept the rest of my body completely relaxed and breathed as well as I could through them. It worked really well for my sanity at least! I also found it helpful to focus on a particular spot on the ceiling during contractions and just try to block everything else out.

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      1. Your experience with IV pain medications (narcotics) definitely have the drawback you mentioned – they can make it hard to remember certain points in your labor, and while for some women that is exactly what they want, others would not find that an acceptable side effect.

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      2. I think it can be so helpful to practice while pregnant on focusing and getting through contractions and using a technique like you did – like finding a spot or image to focus on when the time comes. It can really help keep you grounded during one of the most intense moments of your life! And having a partner who knows your game plan can be super helpful too!

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        1. I practiced this and it really helped when active labor came around… I joke now at the gym that anytime something is hard, I revert to this same method to get through it. 🙂

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    2. I guess I should answer my own question too! 😉 I had an epidural with my first, and it was perfect. With my second I wanted to see if I could go without any medications, and after a 2.5 hr labor I was able to…but I am sure that was partly because things went so quickly! I can say having experienced both one is not superior – thy both have their pluses and minuses. Whatever works for you!

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      1. I have two friends who have done it both ways, too. I find it interesting to discuss those differences, but I’m sure experiences vary even so from person to person and birth to birth.

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  6. My wife didn’t have an epidural. She practiced hypno birthing for months but when it came down to laboring she stayed on her feet as long as possible. For delivery she used a labor bar to lean on and put her feet up. She was amazing!

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    1. That’s great! Isn’t it just crazy to see what women can do? I am in awe every time.

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    2. I would also love to know how you felt during her labor – I’ve seen many partners feel helpless and not be able to stand seeing their wives/girlfriends in pain, which I can totally understand! Were you able to provide support?

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    3. I have never heard of a labor bar but sounds neat. I used a birthing ball and found it helpful.

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  7. If you are pregnant or can remember from previous pregnancies, do you feel that your OB or midwife spent enough time explaining alternatives to traditional pain relief options, such as walking, water immersion, or massage? Did you try any of these techniques?

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    1. Both of my OBs were very excited when I shared that I was planning to forgo and epidural. I don’t recall them sharing any pain relief techniques, though. They just told me I could do it and they would support me, and also make notes in my chart so nurses would know what my plan was.

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    2. My OB and my whole team of nurses were very encouraging from pregnancy through actual delivery. They were like cheerleaders, and they had all experienced unmedicated births as well, so it was very much welcomed encouragement! They did offer water immersion, which I began, but I had to get out when they realized my platelets were so low. The tub was SOOOO nice for that hour or so though. My husband was also really helpful with my second. After my water broke, I experienced the worst pain of my life, and he helped put pressure on my back where it felt like she was about to explode from! 😉 Luckily, she was born within 20 minutes of that, or I would not have been able to experience a completely unmedicated birth the second time around. There’s definitely something to say for a quick labor and delivery!

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  8. I had both of my children with no epidural or medication. I knew I wanted to try my best and had a mentor (another mom) who talked me through what the experience might be like. I also took a natural childbirth class, which was really helpful. I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself, though, as I wanted to make the best decision for me and the baby without feeling embarrassed if I couldn’t do it.

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    1. I think you hit the nail on the head Molly – having a plan but being open! I’ve seen so many moms apologizing (to me, their partner, family members, etc) for getting an epidural. They felt like they were “giving up”, when in reality no one can know how labor will feel or what they will want/need until it happens! Like you said, prep is key too – having realistic expectations, understanding how labor happens, and knowing who to have in your labor room so that the people there are true supporters of you, no matter what.

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      1. SO true. And every labor is different, too. I was worried with my second one that I wouldn’t be able to do it again. You would think I should have been relieved and confident to know what was unknown the first go around!

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  9. Alright everyone, I must call it a night and get one of my little ones off to bed – but please keep commenting and posting your thoughts, questions, and experiences! I will definitely continue to respond. May you all have short, pain-free labors in your future 😉

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  10. We had a doula and we worked as a team providing support. She would both help my wife and guide me how best to help. That was huge. I didn’t always know what to do.

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    1. Doulas are great! We know they offer wonderful support and studies have shown women who use doulas have lower rates of needing to deliver by C-section.

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