The quality of the childbirth experience is not determined by whether or not medications are used. All medications affect labor and the baby in some way, but with careful monitoring, serious side effects are rare.
Why Are Medications Used?
- Medical reasons; including high blood pressure or lack of progress.
- The mother's extreme discomfort due to the position of the baby, the strength of the contractions, or the length of labor.
- Fatigue due to long, hard labor.
The Decision to Use Medication
- Your physician/midwife and anesthesiologist will discuss your options for pain relief and offer suggestions based on your individual needs.
- The staff will work with you and suggest alternative pain relief measures to medications, if desired.
The Labor Partner's Role
- Know the mother's feeling about medications before labor begins.
- Provide the mother with support regardless of the decision she makes.
Ways to Minimize the Need for Medication
- Have realistic expectations of labor — hard work, sweat and tears. Labor is similar to running a marathon; very hard work with a great reward.
- Work with your labor. Take each contraction one at a time and have confidence in your body.
- It is helpful to know how far along she is in labor before making a decision about medication. For example, your decision to take medication may be affected by knowing that you are nine versus six centimeters dilated.
- Try to avoid making a decision during a contraction. You are both more vulnerable at this time.
- Accept coaching and staff support.
- Nap when you can in order to minimize fatigue in late pregnancy.
In order to give you informed consent for a suggested procedure or medication, you may want to discuss the following questions with your physician or midwife:
- What is the purpose?
- What are the perceived benefits and risks?
- Do any risks necessitate other interventions?
- What other things can we try?
- What could happen if we delay one or two hours?