What are my medication options in labor?

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Doulas support women in labor whether they are planning to go natural or choose to have medication. When you think of pain mediation in labor, epidurals typically come to mind, but epidurals are not your only choice of pain medication. There are many different options and many of them offer temporary relief to help you get a “break” from the contractions so that you may nap and regain strength to go at it again. Here are some of the most common forms of pain relief:


1.    Epidural: this option is the most common form of pain relief and is administered by an anesthesiologist through a catheter and numbs the lower body while allowing you to stay completely conscious.   

2.    Narcotics: are administered through an IV and provide short term pain relief and usually wear off in or around 2 hours. Some examples are Nubain, Demerol, and Fentanyl. 

3.    Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas): is inhaled through a mask and is sort of a weak anesthetic and is safe for baby. 

4.    TENS Unit: (short for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a machine that you use to stick electrodes on your lower back, which then delivers small pulses of electrodes, which you control with a remote. This essentially is a nerve blocker and is perfect for those who want to labor at home for as long as possible.  

5.    Sterile Water injections- shots of sterile water that are inserted under the skin in four places on your lower back. These shots offer pain relief for around 90 min-2hours. This is the perfect choice for those who want no drugs at all but would like some temporary pain relief.


Your options for pain relief may vary from hospital to hospital and it is best check with your medical provider to see what your options are.


Whatever option you choose-whether it’s pain medication or no medication at all, we support your decision and would be honored to support you through your labor and birth. We can’t wait to talk to you!


Trusted. Supported. Empowered.  



Jacquelin Knighton