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Expectant Parents Learning Center

Epidurals - Four Factors that Determine if You Will Use

Pain Medication in Labor

By Penny Simkin, PT

  1. Your Desires. If you want to use pain medications, you are more likely to use them than if you want to avoid them. (The Pain Medications Preference Scale will help you think about your desires.)
  2. Childbirth Education. If you have taken childbirth classes in which the process of giving birth and emotions of labor are explained and self-help comfort measures are taught and practiced, you will have less need for pain medications.
  3. Support and Assistance. If you have continuous support and knowledgeable assistance in the use of comfort measures from your partner and a doula (a trained experienced labor support provider), as well as your nurse, midwife, or doctor, you will have less need for pain medications.
  4. Labor Pattern. If labor is prolonged, complicated, includes the use of painful interventions, or if you are restricted from using some of the non-drug approaches to pain, you will be more likely to need pain medications.

(From "Clarifying Your Feelings about Pain and Medications in Childbirth," by Penny Simkin. Childbirth Graphics: Waco, TX, 1997 - 1-800-299-3366, ext. 287.)

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