Labor Pain Medication at a Glance

Analgesics

What they do: Opiod analgesics like Demerol act on the whole nervous system, rather than on any particular area. Analgesics don't completely erase pain, but they can lessen its intensity.

When they're used: Analgesics are used mainly during early labor and after birth. They help to reduce anxiety, and are especially good for long, tense labors.

How they're given: They're usually given as a shot into a muscle or through an IV. Some can be self-administered, wherein you control the amount of medication you receive by pushing a button attached to the IV tube. You'll generally respond to the drug within 15-30 minutes.

Pros:

  • They provide pain relief over the entire body without causing loss of consciousness.
  • You'll be able to rest during the early part of labor, saving energy for the second stage.

Cons:

  • You may experience drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Your baby may experience respiratory difficulties, exhibit poor sucking, and have slower reflexes at birth.

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