Information Specifically for Expectant Mothers
PHARMACEUTICALLY-BASED PAIN CONTROL

Regional Anesthesia

The regional anesthesia techniques described below are often encountered during childbirth. Additional factors to consider when discussing pain control for childbirth are the natural changes to the mother’s body during pregnancy and the effects the medications used may have on the baby.

Local anesthetics are injected near a part of the body where pain control is desired. Locals are primarily used for episiotomies or stitches after delivery.

Paracervical block is local anesthesia technique used by some obstetricians to provide pain control during labor. A local anesthetic is injected through the vagina near the cervix. This provides pain control for labor but not for delivery. The medications usually last for thirty to ninety minutes and may have effects on the baby. The major disadvantages of this technique are the effects on the baby and the possibility that the mother may require multiple blocks depending on duration of her labor. Ask your doctor if he or she uses this block and find out if it is right for you.

Spinal anesthesia, often called saddle block, is usually given just prior to delivery. It provides no pain control during labor and may limit or remove a mother’s ability to push during delivery. This anesthetic is rarely used for this type of pain control today.

Intrthecal injection is an option used during early labor to control pain and is usually combined with an epidural (see description is this section). Small doses of medication are placed in the spinal canal (like a spinal block). Effective pain control is achieved with this technique without the medications diretly affecting the paby. Pain control lasts for 3 to 5 hours. If needed, additional medication can be given through the epidural catheter.

Epidural anesthesia is the most common method of achieving pain control for women in labor administered by Regional Anesthesia Group. A catheter (plastic tube) is placed into the back just outside of the spinal canal. Medications are given through this tube to control pain during labor and delivery. Medications given through the epidural rarely have direct effects on the baby. The epidural gives the aneshetist the greatest flexibility to adjust a mother’s pain control during labor and delivery. An epidural can be used to “take the edge off” of contractions or be adjusted so that it is potent enough to provide pain control during surgery or a cesarean section.