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Pain Management Options During Labor at UPMC in Central Pa.

Because the birthing process is often painful, UPMC in Central Pa. offers a range of pain management options for your labor and delivery. Whether you want to deliver with or without medication, our caring staff will respect your wishes and help you create the birthing experience that is best for you.

It may be helpful for you and your partner to discuss your pain management preferences with your health care provider before labor begins. Pain management preferences can also be incorporated into your birth plan.

At UPMC in Central Pa., we address your pain differently depending on your condition. During labor, you will be asked how you are coping. Before and after labor, you will be asked to rate your pain on a scale from zero to 10, zero indicates no pain and 10 indicates severe pain.

As your labor progresses, we will monitor your pain and provide you with information on the pain management options available to you, including:

  • Medication-free pain management or "natural childbirth." These options include the use of drug-free comfort measures such as relaxation and breathing techniques, massage, walking, position changes, counter-pressure and water therapy. Medication-free childbirth enables you to move more freely during labor and may result in a more alert baby, which helps to promote early breastfeeding.
  • Pain medication. Medication is usually delivered through an intravenous (IV) line after your cervix begins to dilate.
  • Epidural anesthesia. An anesthesiologist inserts a catheter in your spine to deliver anesthesia that will numb your body from the waist down to diminish the pain of contractions. If you have an epidural, you must stay in bed until your baby is delivered.
  • Nitrous Oxide. Nitrous oxide (also known as nitrous or laughing gas) is a colorless, nonflammable, tasteless, and odorless gas. It is self-administered on demand by the patient. Learn more about nitrous oxide use during labor (PDF).

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