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 are acceptable for pain control. Examples are

Regional anesthesia is another option. This can be administered as an epidural, spinal, or combined spinal-epidural block. Research has shown that regional anesthesia is more effective than injectable medications for controlling pain. Moreover, large scale clinical trials did not show an increase in the C-section rate in women who opted for regional anesthesia.

Women who choose not to receive pain medications can use breathing techniques and/or imagery for pain control. Relaxation techniques and yoga have also proved beneficial.

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 dilation and thinning of the cervix.
  • The baby's heart rate is usually checked intermittently with a Doppler device, or continuous electronic fetal monitoring may be employed.
  • External fetal monitoring is accomplished by placing a transducer on the maternal abdominal wall. The transducer detects the fetal heart rate and displays it on a visual tracing.
  • Internal monitoring is another method used to follow the fetal heartbeat. With this technology, a small electrode is passed through the cervix and attached to the fetal scalp.
  • The type of monitoring selected depends upon a number of factors, and it will vary from patient to patient. Your health-care professional will choose the most appropriate type for your individual situation.
  • Continuous fetal monitoring is almost universally used if the woman receives epidural anesthesia, or if oxytocin (Pitocin) is used to induce labor. It is also employed with high-risk pregnancies or if the labor is complicated.

Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD, Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology


Cheng, Y. et al. "Normal Labor and Delivery." Medscape; Updated May 02,2015

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2015

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