Pain Tolerance: Know How Much You Can Take, And Have A Plan!

Is pain relief on your birth-plan checklist? If not, it should be! Image by Fanginhoon

Is pain relief on your birth-plan checklist? If not, it should be! Image by Fanginhoon

What’s the Plan?

I always recommend epidurals for my patients, but others have different preferences when it comes to natural childbirth. Personally, I have done natural childbirth (with my second child) and received an epidural with my first child. I didn’t get a trophy with my second child, I still got a beautiful baby boy. Don’t be a hero, enjoy your labor with medication if you’re concerned about pain.

Whatever your plan is, however, make sure that everyone knows your wishes. If you absolutely do not want any pain medication, your nurses and doctor – and your whole birth support team should know that in advance.

By the same token, if you’re going to want an epidural, tell your labor and delivery nurses from the moment you get in – epidurals require an anesthesiologist and some preparation, so you can’t just change your mind as you’re heading into the worst pain.

Labor Pains: Not Required

I would like to conclude with a lovely statement from ACOG. “Labor causes severe pain for many women. There is no other circumstance where it is considered acceptable for an individual to experience untreated severe pain, amenable to safe intervention, while under a physician’s care. In the absence of a medical contraindication, maternal request is a sufficient medical indication for pain relief during labor.”

Whether you plan to pursue pain relief via a ‘natural’ method such as hypnosis, or via more conventional means, such as an epidural, remember: Agonizing pain isn’t a required part of giving birth, so choose your method of pain relief now and you’ll have a better experience later.

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ACOG. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 36: Obstetric Analgesia and Anesthesia. (2002). Accessed May 19, 2013.

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