Mothers-to-be respond to the pains associated with childbirth in different ways. Some may have a higher threshold of pain than others, but at The Group for Women we offer all patients various options. For more information, please call us at 757-466-6350.
Good pain relief during labor and delivery enables you to be more comfortable and to more effectively participate in the birth of your baby.
The degree of discomfort experienced during labor and delivery varies from patient to patient and from one labor experience to the next. Some women do very well with techniques such as Lamaze, while most request further assistance and thereby use a combination of techniques. Depending upon your labor pattern, labor progress, medical history and your baby’s condition, additional pain management might include intravenous (I.V.) medications or epidural analgesia.
The vast majority of women in labor prefer to have epidural analgesia because of the excellent pain relief a long history of safety for both mother and baby. Remember, the choice of analgesia is a decision determined by you and your health care team (anesthesiologist, obstetrician, nurse anesthetist, nurse).
The epidural space runs the length of your back and is located just outside the sac that contains the spinal cord, nerves, and spinal fluid. A tiny catheter placed in the epidural space in the small of your back (the lumbar region) allows the administration of pain control medications before, during and after your delivery. Epidural analgesia is often more effective than other forms of pain management following certain types of procedures, and your anesthesiologist will explain this method more thoroughly if it is indicated.
We are very proud of our excellent obstetrical anesthesia track record of safety and concern for mother and baby. Though serious side effects occur infrequently, we are fully prepared to handle any situation. It is important to note that in almost every situation, the advantages of pain relief during childbirth greatly outweigh the potential risks.
A catheter bumping against a nerve can cause a brief “funny bone” sensation, but nerve injury related to an epidural is exceedingly rare. Most patients have a backache after childbirth whether or not they have had an epidural.
Sometimes, patients will have “breakthrough pain” and will require an additional does of medications or occasionally, the epidural may need to be replaced. Communicating with your care provider is very important in obtaining the most responsive pain management.
Other very uncommon events might involve some medication entering a blood vessel or the spinal fluid sac. If the epidural needle or catheter enters the spinal fluid sac, the patient may get a headache 24 to 48 hours later. We have effective treatments for this problem.
There are two types of anesthesia used for Cesarean sections: regional or general anesthesia. A recommendation will be made by your anesthesiologist after a thorough review is conducted of you and your baby’s medical condition. Both methods of anesthesia have a long history in obstetrics, and although there are risks, they have been shown to be safe for you and your baby.
Regional anesthesia is an attractive choice because you can be awake during your baby’s birth and your support person can join you in the operating room. Also, your baby’s exposure to medications is reduced and the potential risks of general anesthesia can be avoided.
Regional anesthesia is administered using one of two techniques: epidural or spinal anesthesia. If you already have an epidural catheter in place from labor, stronger anesthetic medications will be given to establish anesthesia for your Cesarean section. Once the epidural or spinal anesthetic becomes effective, you will be numb from your mid-chest to your toes. Your legs may seem heavy and you will not be able to move them until after the anesthetic wears off. You also may feel some tugging, pulling or pressure as the bay is born, but you should not feel pain.
An alternative to epidural anesthesia is spinal anesthesia, which involves injecting a local anesthetic into the spinal fluid sac. Receiving a spinal anesthetic is very similar to receiving an epidural anesthetic. You can discuss the relative risks and benefits of spinal or epidural anesthesia for Cesarean section with your anesthesia provider.
Occasionally it is necessary to use general anesthesia. To minimize your baby’s exposure to anesthetic agents, your abdomen will be cleansed and draped before you go to sleep. Medication will be injected through your I.V. to induce general anesthesia. After you are asleep, a special breathing tube will be placed into your mouth to reduce the risk of aspiration of stomach contents. After the tube is in place, the surgery begins. After the surgery is completed, the breathing tube will be removed and you will be transformed to the recovery room for observation. A sore throat is an occasional complaint following surgery.