4 Non-Epidural Options For Pain Relief During Labor

pain-relief-options
Image via Chaunie Brusie

When it comes to pain relief during labor, there's probably only one thought that comes to mind:

Epidural or all-natural, baby.

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Sure, there are other options you may be familiar with, like that birthing ball they mentioned in childbirth class, but everyone really knows those things don't really work.

Right?

Wrong.

After working in labor and delivery and delivering four children of my own (well, not totally by myself, I did have them all in the hospital!), I've seen just about every type of birth you could imagine, and the truth is, there are many different ways to cope with pain during labor. So when I say an epidural is not your only option, I really do mean it.

Check out some of these non-epidural options, and, as always, keep an open mind as you head into labor. You never know what your body is truly capable of until you try!

Yourself

OK. I list this one as the first option because, really, when it comes to labor, there is nothing more important than knowing yourself and your own strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities. All women (all humans, for that matter) experience pain differently, so there just isn't a one-size-fits-all explanation for how the pain of a contraction will feel — it's different for everyone.

So going into labor with the mental know-how to trust yourself and what works for you is the first weapon in your arsenal of pain relief.

Water

A tub with jets carried me through two all-natural labors, and I will forever swear by them. Many women find that being submersed in water helps take the pressure off during contractions, and aiming the jets directly at pressure points in your back and hip area especially can really help with the pain.

Many birthing centers and hospitals now are equipped with jet tubs, so check with your birthing facility to see if this option may work for you. If they don't have a tub, you could also try sitting in a shower chair and having your partner aim a hand-held shower head directly on your back.

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Medications

An epidural is not the only medication you can get during labor. You can also ask for some narcotic pain relief, such as Nubain or Demerol, that is usually dosed directly into your IV.

These medications have varying effects on women — some get great pain relief, and others just end up feeling, well, drunk off of them. I used a narcotic pain relief during one of my labors, and I although I didn't like the dizzy, outer-space feeling it gave me, it was enough to take the edge off of my pain and get me to deliver without needing an epidural.

The key in using narcotics is timing. They give short, fast-acting pain relief, so you want to try to use them as you are in the transitional phase of labor, around 7 cm, as that's when the pain really gets intense. I would advise against opting for the drugs too close to delivery because the doctors will refuse to give them to you; the drugs will affect your baby.

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Acupuncture

OK, so it may sound crazy to avoid getting an epidural by sticking needles in your body, but acupuncture has absolutely zero side effects and has been shown to actually be pretty effective for reducing pain during labor.

There are a select few hospitals that offer it, so you will have to check with your care provider and maybe get it cleared to have a labor support person to administer the acupuncture for you if you go with this option. But it's so worth checking out, and your efforts may just push your birthing place of choice to offer more options for women, too.

Did you use any non-epidural pain relief methods during labor?

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What do you think?

4 Non-Epidural Options For Pain Relief During Labor

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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2 comments

  1. What happens to baby when drugs r giving thru iv close to delivery? When I went into labor, the nurses just automatically gave me meds thru the iv. They didn’t ask if I wanted it or needed it. I gave birth 30 mins later. I was already 8 cm, when they gave me the drugs. To this day, I still don’t know what they gave me

  2. Maria says:

    I never really knew that there were other options as the ones talked about in this discussion. I am glad that I read this article now I can ask my doctor some questions about these other interventions and see what possible option would be best for me. Thank you for sharing.

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