Pain relief is an important part of your care. Your health care team wants to make you as comfortable as possible, but you are the key to getting the pain relief you need. Pain is personal and individual. Each person feels pain—and its relief—in different ways.
What if I don't want pain medication?
Our staff are here to support you and to help you manage your pain during and after labor. There are several non-medicine options you can try, if appropriate. These can be used alone or with medication to help you get the most pain relief possible.These options include:
- Progressive relaxation – close your eyes and then focus on tightening, then relaxing, different parts of your body, working from the head down.
- Deep abdominal breathing – get into a relaxed position and close your eyes, take a deep breath, hold it for a count of five, and then exhale slowly. Repeat five to 10 times.
- Distraction – hold your baby skin-to-skin, watch television, or call a friend.
- Massage – especially the back and feet.
- Music – relaxation tapes or your favorite music.
- Heat and/or cold compresses.
- Positioning – use pillows to position yourself comfortably in the bed or chair.
What should I tell my health care provider about my pain?
- Where it hurts.
- When it hurts.
- How much it hurts.
- What the pain feels like.
- When the pain started.
- What makes the pain worse.
- What makes the pain better.
Your nurse will work with you to make a plan of care regarding your pain control. Pain medication is given, as needed. If you would like pain medication during labor, ask for it as soon as you start to feel pain. It is easier to control pain in the early stage, before it becomes bad. If you have pain that does not go away, tell your health care provider.
What are the benefits of pain control?
- You may be able to move more easily, which helps you get your strength back faster.
- You may be more comfortable.
- You may recover faster.
You can help by letting your health care team know what has helped control pain for you before, and about any allergies or reactions you have had to medication in the past. Tell them all the medications you are taking, including herbal products, to avoid problems caused by mixing medications. Ask about the side effects you can expect from any medications you get. Many people are afraid they will become addicted to pain medication, but that usually does not happen. If you are worried about this, talk to your health care provider.
How will my medication be given?
Pain medication is given in different forms, including:
- Shot in the buttocks, arm, or through your IV.
- Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) – with a PCA pump, you can control when you get pain medication by pushing a button that releases the medicine through the IV in your vein.
How will I know if the pain medication is working?
You will be asked how the pain medication is working. You will need to measure your pain on a scale of zero to 10. It is important to know what your goal is for pain relief, on a scale of zero to 10. Reporting your pain helps the health care providers know how well your pain medication is working.