Labor Pain Medication at a Glance

General Anesthesia

What it does: General anesthetics are medications that make you lose consciousness. When used during childbirth, the mother will not be awake or feel any pain during delivery.

When it's used: General anesthesia is used only for emergencies. It is not used to relieve the pain of labor. It may be used for cesarean delivery or other urgent situations.

How it's given: These drugs are given through a face mask or injected through an IV line. Once the drug is given, it works very quickly.

Pros:

  • You'll feel no pain and be unaware of labor or delivery distress.

Cons:

  • It may cause nausea and vomiting.
  • It depresses your central nervous system.
  • You blood pressure may drop.
  • The drug may cross the placenta to the baby.
  • Forceps may become necessary for delivery.
  • Grogginess may make it difficult to hold and bond with your baby right after delivery.

Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA); American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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