How to Cope with Labor Pain
What factors affect my experiences of labor pain?Your experience of pain depends on many factors including your belief in your ability to cope with pain, what you think is necessary to remedy it, your labor environment, and your previous experience with pain. Comfort in Labor (PDF) is a free and helpful article with body positions to help you cope with labor pain.
What factors affect my choice of pain relief options?Your choice of pain relief options is limited by where you decide to have your baby. If you choose a hospital, you will have access to pain medication such as epidural analgesia, but may have very limited help with drug-free methods such as tubs, showers, and birthing balls. If you choose a birth center or a home birth, a much wider array of comfort measures and drug-free methods are likely to be available, but epidural analgesia is not available in these birth settings.
Pain medication isn't effective for everyone, just as each woman's tolerance of pain is different. And drugs have side effects that may harm you or the baby. It would be wise for you to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of all available options to manage your labor pain, so be sure to talk this over with your health care provider well before your labor begins. For more information on coping with labor pain, visit our section on Labor Pain and Labor Support. To learn about labor positions that can help to ease labor pain and help your labor to progress, start by downloading Comfort in Labor (PDF) with pictures of different labor positions.
Most recent page update: 9/9/2010
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Listening to MothersSM III is the third national survey exploring women’s experiences in pregnancy and childbirth. Commissioned by Childbirth Connection, conducted by Harris Interactive, and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the survey polled 2,400 women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals from 2011 to 2012. Results show that medically intensive experiences are typical, and evidence-based practices are underutilized. Childbearing women need better support and knowledge to navigate their maternity care.
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