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Pain free Childbirth

Dr. Lakshmi Ammal, Consultant Gynaecologist, SUT Hospital, Pattom

How can we reduce labor pain?
Labor pain is different for everyone. The severity of labor pain varies from woman to woman. The main factor affecting the severity of pain is fear of pain. The pregnant woman should be told and understood about the labor pain and the methods to reduce it even before the delivery. Many hospitals conduct awareness classes for this purpose. If such classes are implemented in all hospitals, it will be an effective step in alleviating these fears.

In general, all pregnant women have the fear of being left alone in the labor room without the care of relatives. Unfamiliar environment, unfamiliar faces and labor pains, are a nightmare for many pregnant women. Even in government hospitals which are generally very busy nowadays, nurses and other staff take care of pregnant women with love and compassion.

The pregnant woman can reduce her tension and fear if one of the close relatives is with them from the time of labor pain to the delivery. This is where the concept of Birth Companion introduced. In delivery rooms with limited space, it is difficult to go on with this concept. However, hospitals are trying to implement the concept of Birth Companion. It will go a long way in easing the severity of labor pains. This Birth Companion can be a mother, a sister, and each pregnant woman can be accompanied by their husband if there is a separate delivery room or facility for delivery.

Medicines to relieve pain
Morphine pethidine class of drugs have been available to help reduce the pain to some extent, although it cannot completely relieve the pain of childbirth. These can be given by injection or drip. But there is a limit to the dosage of this medicine. If these medicines are given in excess of a certain dose, it can affect the baby adversely. These drugs will reduce pain but will not make labor completely painless. Inhaled medications are also available for this purpose. The severity of pain can be reduced by using this every time when they feel pain.

Is Pain Free Childbirth Possible?
Yes. An innovative method called Epidural Analgesia can make childbirth completely painless. Bupivacaine or equivalent drugs are injected in the outside covering of the spinal cord. This medication can be given intermittently through a fine catheter placed in the epidural space as per the needs of the pregnant woman. This is a form of anaesthesia that use for major operations. This medicine blocks only nerves like pain, touch etc. As it does not affect muscle function, it does not cause any other limitations or difficulties for the pregnant woman. A limitation of this method is that epidural analgesia can only be administered by an experienced anaesthesiologist. It does not cause any health problems for the baby or the mother. Common people have many doubts about regular epidural analgesia. It is because they fear that it may adversely affect the health of pregnant women in future.

Epidural analgesia is completely safe for mother and baby. Pregnant women often ask for caesarean delivery as they cannot tolerate the pain. The dilation of cervix to a particular size helps in normal childbirth. Pain and fear decreases the chance of normal childbirth.

If we can ensure a painless delivery, the chances of a normal childbirth can be increased. Ask your doctor about pain-free delivery while going for routine check-ups during pregnancy.