Options for Managing Pain

The nurses and doctors at The Birth Center at Valley Medical Center are ready to help you manage pain in a variety of ways—whether it's giving a massage, providing information so you know better what to expect, or offering you safe, short-acting pain medication during labor. Pain control is an important part of your care. Please tell us if you are having pain or if your pain medications are not working for you.

Analgesics are medications that relieve pain or raise a person's threshold for pain tolerance. Analgesics are usually given through an IV by your nurse and can be administered more than once until the later stages of labor (when you are pushing or delivery is near).

Anesthetics are substances that produce a loss of sensation. "Regional" anesthetics are used to numb a particular area of the body. The most common regional anesthetics used in childbirth are:

Patient using nitrous oxideNitrous Oxide*

  • Effective, non-narcotic pain management.
  • Self-administered in bed or while seated.
  • Safe for Mom and baby, does not affect labor progression.
  • May be used before an epidural or other pain-relief option.
  • Is nitrous oxide is right for you?  

Continuous Epidural

  • Used for the duration of active labor.
  • Injected into the lower back or through a catheter (a very small plastic tube) placed in your back by an anesthesiologist.
  • Takes 10 to 15 minutes to begin relieving discomfort and affects the area between your waist and toes.
  • A patient-controlled epidural is also available. With this type, you press a button to give yourself a controlled amount of medication.

Spinal Anesthesia

  • Used mainly for cesarean delivery.
  • Injected into the lower back by an anesthesiologist.
  • Takes 3 to 5 minutes to begin working and lasts 1 to 2 hours, affecting the area between your waist and feet.

Pudendal Block

  • Used for discomfort during an "assisted" delivery (when forceps or vacuum are needed). Does not block contraction pain.
  • Injected in the top of the vagina by the doctor who is delivering the baby.
  • Takes 2 to 5 minutes to work. Lasts about an hour and affects only the vagina and perineum.

Local infiltration

  • Used for episiotomy repair after delivery.
  • Injected in the perineum by the doctor who is delivering the baby.
  • Takes about 2 minutes to work and lasts about 20 minutes. Numbs the perineum.

Valley Anesthesia Associates provides anesthesia services at Valley Medical Center. You will receive a separate bill from them for your anesthesia costs. If your health insurance covers obstetrical services, it will usually cover obstetrical anesthesia. However, we recommend you that call your insurance provider to verify coverage.

For more information about anesthesia costs, call Valley Anesthesia Associates at 425.353.3788.