What methods of pain relief are available when I am in labor?
There are several options available to the pregnant mother. Psychological techniques like Lamaze are an option for pain relief. Intravenous medications are available but may be limited by the stage and time of labor. Pain medications like Demerol®, Nubain®, Stadol®, Fentanyl, and Morphine are examples of intravenous medications. Upon the decision of your Obstetrician, Regional anesthetics may also be a viable options for pain relief. Epidural and spinal anesthetics are administered by the anesthesiologist. Paracervical, pudendal, and perineal blocks are usually done by the obstetrician.
What are the side effects of epidurals and spinals?
Complications of spinal and epidural anesthesia include neurologic changes, headache, backache, and unexplained cardiac arrest. Backache associated with these techniques is usually transient in nature, but may occur in up to 20 % of cases. Epidurals also carry risk associated with the fact that more medication has to be given for the epidural. If this medication is given into a blood vessel or into the spinal fluid, seizures or temporary paralysis may occur. In an effort to prevent these complications, the anesthesiologist may administer a small "test dose" of medication and then gives epidural medications in small, repeated increments rather than in one large dose.