Since the beginning of time, labor and childbirth have always been associated with pain. While pain tolerance levels or pain thresholds are subjective aspects, there are many discussions doing the rounds about experiencing the overwhelmingly beautiful childbirth process painlessly. It is a fact that there are a number of safe and effective methods that can ensure pain relief during labor and every mother-to-be has the right to be aware of her options and have the freedom to discuss the same with her doctors without judgement.
The most commonly seen procedure in order to achieve a painless delivery is by administering an Epidural anesthesia. This injection is given to the mother’s lower back by and within 10-15 minutes, the medication will begin to take effect. An epidural injection is given only when the mother is in active labor and when there are at least 3 contractions that are 10 minutes apart. Epidurals are perfectly safe for both the mother and the baby and the injection have been proven to greatly reduce pain and sensations in the lower half of the body, but 100% pain relief cannot be guaranteed.
In fact, opting for a painless delivery does have some advantages as well like allowing the woman to cope better with post-partum depression or fatigue, making her more relaxed about the whole birthing process, relaxing the vaginal muscles and giving the baby room to fall, controlling the mother’s blood pressure levels, or even avoiding damage that can happen to the pelvic muscles during a typical delivery. Other than epidural there can also be alternative methods for a painless delivery like Entonox which is a combination of gases administered to the pregnant woman through a mask under the supervision of trained personnel. Water birth or laboring in a pool or warm water has also found to have a calming effect on the mothers.
While we are discussing the topic of painless delivery it is also a known fact that there are numerous myths that surround this subject. It is important that these are cleared up by discussing it openly with your doctors and no single person’s experience is the last word when it comes to painless childbirth. Let’s look at a few of these commonly heard myths.
It is not always a given that selecting a painless delivery will mean that vaginal birth will not be possible. Such delivery may increase the chances of using instrumentation to pull the baby out like forceps and vacuum but this does not automatically warrant a C-section. Without sufficient calcium supplements or exercise, back pain is a common thing following a childbirth. But there are never any studies proving that epidurals can lead to permanent back pain, or spinal paralysis. The baby is never going to be under any harm when an epidural is being given to the mother.
There is also a myth that epidurals can cause unbearable headaches in mothers. A post-dural puncture headache can happen from the leaking spinal fluid but this can be managed with the help of pain medications. Another myth is that anybody can have a painless delivery. But this is not so, because the choice will solely depend on the mother’s medical condition. Doctors will do an assessment of the epidural capacity, general health and medical history to rule out any underlying illness that could stand in the way of getting an epidural injection.