Labor and Delivery (cont.)

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What are pain control options during labor and delivery?

Many women opt not to receive medications or interventions for pain control during labor and delivery, while others choose medical or procedural pain control methods. Several different opioid analgesic and opioid agonist medications can be given for pain control. Examples are meperidine, fentanyl, morphine, butorphanol, and nalbuphine. Regional anesthesia is another option. Regional anesthesia can be administered as epidural, spinal, or combined spinal-epidural anesthesia. Research has shown that regional anesthesia is more effective than medications for pain control, and large clinical trials did not show an increase in Cesarean section rate in women who opt for regional anesthesia. Women who choose not to receive pain medications or anesthesia can use breathing techniques and imagery to help manage pain. Relaxation techniques and yoga have both been shown to improve pain control in labor.

What kind of monitoring is done during labor and delivery?

During the first stage of labor, you will likely have pelvic examinations to check the extent and progression of the dilation of the cervix. The baby's heart rate is usually checked, sometimes with a Doppler device or fetoscope, as was done in prenatal check-ups. Additionally, many women have continuous fetal monitoring during labor. This measures both the baby's heartbeat and the contractions of the uterus. This is generally done by placing two transducers on the abdomen that send signals to a device that records the information. Internal fetal monitoring is another type of fetal monitoring. In this case, a small electrode is passed through the cervix and attached to the baby's scalp. The type of monitoring depends upon a number of factors. Your health care professional will choose the most appropriate type of monitoring for your individual situation. Continuous fetal monitoring is typically done, for example, if the woman receives epidural anesthesia or oxytocin (Pitocim) to induce labor. It also is usually done for high-risk pregnancies and when complications develop during labor.

Medically reviewed by Steven Nelson, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology

REFERENCE: Normal Labor and Delivery.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/9/2015