Labor Pain-Relief Primer

Opioid Analgesics

How It's Given

A drug is injected into a muscle or run through an IV into a vein. Injected shots must be repeated every hour or so.

What It Does

Takes the edge off pain but does not alleviate it as well as a regional block would. (Still, some women find this method less frightening than a needle in the back).

Things to Consider

  • Can make the mother groggy, sleepy, or nauseated.
  • Because the drugs cross the placenta, they can make the baby groggy, depress her breathing, and delay her ability to latch on after birth.
  • The mother may experience breakthrough pain during contractions.

Copyright © 2002 Alice Lesch Kelly. Reprinted with permission from the September 2002 issue of Parents magazine; 9/02

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