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Pain in labor is caused by contractions of the uterine muscles and pressure on the cervix. It may feel like cramping in the abdomen, groin or back, or pain in the side or thighs.

Each woman’s experience of labor pain is unique and every labor is different, so it’s impossible to know in advance how you will cope with the discomfort, whether it’s your first child or if you’ve given birth before. That’s why Atlantic Health System recommends that you talk to your doctor or midwife about pain relief options. You'll want to consider:

  • Labor may hurt more than you anticipate. Some women who started labor not wanting any pain medication change their mind as labor progresses.
  • Your ability to tolerate the pain of childbirth has nothing to do with your worth as a mother.
  • Medication can relieve most of your pain but will likely not relieve all of it.
  • Pain medication can make the baby sleepy if given too close to the time of birth.
  • Pain medication can make you sleepy or nauseous.
  • If you need to have a Cesarean Section, you will need anesthesia.
  • Using pain medication does not mean that you did not have a successful birth.

Natural Childbirth

Some women choose to give birth using no medication at all. Birth is a normal, natural and healthy process. In some natural childbirth methods, a major goal is to avoid pain medication unless it is absolutely necessary. If you choose to give birth without medication, we’ll help you use a variety of techniques to minimize your discomfort:

  • Relaxation and distraction techniques
  • Breathing techniques
  • Birthing ball
  • Changing position or walking
  • Massage or pressure points
  • Aromatherapy
  • Music
  • Taking a bath or shower
  • Imagery or meditation
  • Yoga
  • Hypnosis

Prepared Childbirth Classes

Our prepared childbirth classes, which help a woman and her partner learn what to expect during labor and delivery, cover options for managing pain. Learn more >

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