Why the Duchess’ natural birth has women talking
With Kate Middleton’s life a continuous headline, her decision to forgo pain medication during labor has many women talking about the pro and cons of going ‘au natural.’
“Pain in labor can be a widely variable experience for each woman depending on patient perception as well as the baby’s size, position and size of the mother’s pelvis,” she says.
Dr. Cabiya says that women who opt for a pain medication-free birth may oftentimes use one or a combination of techniques that include: relaxation or breathing techniques, acupuncture or acupressure, massage or hypnosis.
While the effectiveness of these interventions is variable, their risks (if any) are usually minimal, she says.
“Some women decide to use these techniques as a means to cope with the pain of labor, others find it helpful to use those in combination with pain medications,” Dr. Cabiya says. “The most commonly used types of pain medications during birth are epidural (a type of regional anesthesia) or systemic analgesics (pain medication delivered through an IV).”
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an epidural is the most often used a type of regional anesthesia and provides the most pain relief in labor for the majority of women. It gives pain relief to your lower torso and lower extremities.
Dr. Cabiya says a labor epidural is performed by giving an injection in your back and a very thin tube is left in place in order to provide more pain medication as needed during the entire labor and delivery process.
“You remain awake and alert during labor and can move but are not allowed to walk around because you may be at risk for falling,” she says.
Dr. Cabiya notes there are certain risks associated with an epidural which should be discussed with your provider. She says that some of those risk include: sudden drops in blood pressure or a significant headache referred to as a ‘spinal headache;’ possible increase of labor duration as well as the pushing process; and some studies remain controversial as to whether the use of an epidural can increase the likelihood of a cesarean section.
Another form of pain medications are systemic analgesics that are administered intravenously. Dr. Cabiya says these will lessen the pain and make you drowsy but you will remain conscious. These type of medications cannot be given shortly before delivery because they may slow the baby’s breathing at birth, she says.
“While the decision to use or forego the use of pain medication in labor can change during the process, it is a good idea to discuss your wishes with your doctor both throughout the pregnancy as well as during the labor experience,” Dr. Cabiya suggests.
Dr. Cabiya recommends that all pregnant women take a childbirth preparation class. “But it is particularly important for those women who desire a medication free birth so that they can establish a plan for dealing with labor pains.”
About the Author
Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.