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Labor is a pain... what can you do about it?

SO - the trend in the childbirth educator world is to use different words for pain when it comes to labor and childbirth. Ie. discomfort. The theory behind it is the negative relationship with the word pain.

However, we want to be simple and straight forward and MOST of our clients recognize that contractions are painful and they often want to discuss the available options for pain management.

The natural approach. There really is a lot of benefits of approaching labor and childbirth naturally. However, if that is not your cup of tea and you don't feel as calm and peaceful as this birthing parent appears in the photo above about going through labor and childbirth unmedicated, then this article is for you. We are going to discuss the basics about medical pain management options.

If you'd like to learn more than the basics, check out our services to arrange a prenatal consultation or prenatal crash course!

Medical pain management in labor

What are my options?

There are 3 main pain management options available for hospital deliveries: medications, epidurals and Entonox.


“Laughing Gas”

It is a mixture of 50% nitrous oxide and 50% oxygen delivered via a mask or mouthpiece that you can control. Nitrous oxide is very easily used and expelled by the body and causes a sense of “euphoria” that makes you happy and helps with coping.

  • It can be administered at any stage of labour

  • No impact on recovery and very little effect on baby

  • Helps you relax, focus and allows you to have control of how much you administer

  • Some people really do not enjoy it. In fact, they feel quite nauseous when using it.


A small catheter is inserted in the epidural space. It usually causes numbness from your belly button to your upper legs.

  • Takes only 15 min to take effect

  • You can usually ask for an epidural at anytime during your labour

  • It takes the edge off and, for some, makes it so they cannot feel contractions. This can be great, however, it will make it so you need some help with knowing when to push.

  • It does come with some potential risks including low blood pressure and increased chance of needing other interventions


Commonly: tylenol, morphine, fentanyl, hydromorph and zofran

A medication that can be delivered orally, via IV or an injection.

  • The goal with medications such as these is to take the edge off of the symptoms of labor, commonly pain and nausea

  • The other reason why they are offered is to give you some rest in earlier labor, post-induction or if you are having an intervention and do not want an epidural

  • The risks and side effects vary depending on the medication.

  • Often with narcotics (morphine, fentanyl, hydromorph), the provider will suggest consideration of the epidural because they do not want too many medications on board for the delivery.

Want to understand a bit more and have someone to discuss your options with? Consider booking a consultation with Jess and Lee or looking into our prenatal crash course options! We deliver these in-home for those in Southern Alberta and virtually! We also frequently host classes across Southern Alberta.

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