Bringing a life into this world is an intimate and very personal experience. However, the months leading to the delivery of the child are a mixed bag of feelings for the mother – excitement, worry, and also fear. One of the greatest fears expectant mothers face is the fear of intense pain during labour. Today, there are ways, such as pain relaxation techniques, to reduce not only the pain, but also the accompanying anxiety that mothers-to-be feel. We at The Nest offer a range of programs to ensure that you get through this special moment with minimal anxiety, stress, and pain.
The Nest offers pain relief programs that are globally applied to ease pain during labour. There are a number of options to ensure painless delivery, many of which pregnant women here are not aware of. These include:
Lamaze Breathing Techniques
Lamaze Breathing Techniques simplify the birthing process naturally thus alleviating fears and increases the ability to handle pain. Irrespective of your complexities during pregnancy, these practices will help in easy, effective and healthy labour.
The Lamaze techniques cover a range of areas, from increasing the mother’s confidence when it comes to giving birth to a child and helping cope with the pain in a way that facilitates labour to promoting comfort using techniques like focused breathing, movement, and massage.
Women vary in their response to pain during delivery. Some women often tend to avoid drugs and medical interventions, while others are happy to consider all options. There are several medications that obstetricians consider safe to use during labour. These medications can reduce pain, with minimal side effects to the mother and the baby.
Epidural Analgesia is a popular technique used by women, if advised by the doctor, during labour. It is administered only in the advanced stages of labour when the Cervix opens to about 3-4 centimeters. An anesthesiologist, a doctor specializing in administering anesthesia, is required for this procedure.
Small doses of Epidural Analgesia are introduced in the spine through a plastic tube. With a local anesthetic, a needle is passed through the space just outside the Dural Membrane surrounding the Spinal Cord, Spinal Nerve Roots, and Spinal Fluid. The mother-to-be feels no pain during the whole process except the prick of the needle. A catheter, which is a thin plastic tube, is placed on the spine through the needle. The needle is then withdrawn to inject the medicines. Once the catheter is placed, several tests will be performed to ensure the correct placement of the catheter and reduce discomfort. This method, which involves the use of a catheter, is referred to as the – ‘Continuous Epidural Technique’.
Continuous epidural anesthesia can be made to last as long as the labour lasts. When the baby is close to the opening of the uterus, additional medications may be used depending on the level of discomfort experienced by the mother.
There are certain situations where women are advised not to have an epidural. An epidural must be avoided if the mother-to-be:
- Is allergic to certain local anesthetics
- Has a neurological disease
- Has a bleeding tendency
- Regularly takes aspirin
- Has an infection in the lower back area
- Has had a previous back surgery
- Has a psychological disorder or fear of needles
- Is morbidly obese
- Is unable to co-operate or position herself to allow an epidural
- Is too early in labour
- Has an abnormal labour or foetal monitoring pattern
With Epidural Analgesia, pain relief is complete and powerful compared to other forms of Labour Analgesia. Apart from a pressure sensation with the contractions, which helps in the progress of labour, the mother-to-be does not feel anything else. There may, however, be some side effects.
If narcotics are injected, there is usually numbness or weakness of the muscles. Some women experience an itching sensation on their nose and face while some experience occasional nausea, vomiting or slowed breathing. When local anesthetics, along with narcotics, are injected for more intense pain relief, experiencing numbness from the top of the abdomen down to the feet is common. Women may also be unable to empty their bladder completely. These effects remain until the effect of the medication wears off. There are some other common side effects as well:
- Sometimes the anesthesia may not be complete; as a result the mother-to-be may experience more pain. This might require the procedure to be repeated.
- There may be a drop in blood pressure after the epidural has been inserted, causing stress to the baby. This can be treated by giving intravenous fluids.
- Epidurals can lengthen the duration of the labour.
- Around 1% of women experience headache immediately following the procedure
Effects of epidural on the baby:
The baby is exposed to the drugs that are present in the mother’s blood stream. Normally, a small dose of medication is used, which does not have any effect on the baby’s behavior. The effects of the medication on the mother’s body usually wears off before her breasts start producing breast milk.
Epidural Analgesia during a Caesarean:
The type of anesthesia used for a C-section depends on the urgency and also the reason for surgery. Continuous Epidural Analgesia is administered for a C-section, although it is appropriate to have a general anesthetic or a separate spinal anesthetic.
Advantages of Epidural Analgesia:
There are quite a few advantages of administering Epidural Analgesia. A few are listed below:
- More effective in reducing pain during labour
- Dosage can be topped if necessary
- Can be converted into anesthesia in case of surgery
- Controls blood pressure
- Good post-operative pain relief
- Control of labour