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All you should know about labor analgesia

Updated: 2022-04-15


I. What does labor pain feel like?

Labor pain is a unique kind of pain that is different from pain caused by traumas or diseases. Stemming from uterine contractions, labor pain is not limited to the lower abdomen, but can also occur in the lumbosacral portion, pelvic cavity, and upper thighs. It is often a vague cramping pain that gradually intensifies with the intensity of the contractions. It seldom occurs suddenly, but begins with mild to moderate pain and gradually transitions to severe and unbearable pain within a few hours.

II. When can labor analgesia (also known as epidural analgesia) be performed?

After entering the first stage of labor, when uterine contractions are frequent and have a certain intensity, labor analgesia can be performed. The Chongqing Health Center for Women and Children (CQHCWC) generally performs analgesia when the cervix is open wider than two fingers, if without relevant contraindications.

III. When is labor analgesia not carried out?

This decision is made by the obstetrician and anesthesiologist based on the clinical situation.

Common situations include: ①Those who are unable to understand or cooperate with labor analgesia; ②Those who have an infection in the whole body or back; ③Those with an abnormal blood coagulation mechanism; ④Those with a low platelet count; ⑤Those suffering from issues such as prolapse of cord, severe heart disease, placenta previa, or persistent uterine atony.

IV. Will labor analgesia harm the baby?

Labor analgesia places high emphasis on the safety of the mother and fetus. The concentration of drugs used in labor analgesia is much lower than it is required for general anesthesia, and the amount of drugs absorbed through the placenta is very small, which will not adversely affect the fetus.

V. Can the mother breastfeed immediately after labor analgesia?

The epidural analgesic drug works locally, and the amount of drugs that enters the mother's blood and is secreted with breast milk is very small, having no effect on the baby.

VI. Will there be side effects to labor analgesia?

For some new mothers, headache, nausea, and even vomiting may occur after labor analgesia, but the incidence is very low. If these symptoms occur during labor, they are often related to the use of oxytocin drugs.

Studies have shown that, regardless of whether epidural analgesia is received, the incidence of postpartum lumbago is about 40 percent. Its occurrence is related to changes in endocrine levels during pregnancy and childbirth, incorrect breastfeeding posture, postpartum rest, and other factors.

VII. Will labor analgesia prolong the labor process?

Tension, lack of cooperation, or excessive fatigue of the expectant mother, as well as the use of a high concentration of local anesthetics, will prolong the labor process. In recent years, very low concentrations of anesthetics have been used in labor analgesia, so the probability of a prolonged labor process caused by labor analgesia has been greatly reduced.

VIII. Will labor analgesia increase the chance of a caesarean section?

The purpose of labor analgesia is to relieve pain during natural labor and reduce adverse physiological reactions caused by it. Labor analgesia can help expectant mothers cooperate better and will undoubtedly reduce the need for a caesarean section, but it cannot be completely avoided.

In case of emergencies such as fetal umbilical cord compression, abnormal fetal heartbeat, or abnormal maternal antepartum hemorrhage, a caesarean section is required.

IX. Can labor analgesia completely eliminate pain?

Pain is a subjective feeling that varies from person to person, while the administration of pain medication can be precisely quantified. Current technology can significantly reduce or completely eliminate labor, depending on the mother's tolerance to pain and response to medication.

We believe that good labor analgesia should retain a slight sensation during uterine contractions, which is helpful during the labor process and the obstetrician's judgment. According to statistics, 97 percent of puerperae are satisfied with the analgesic effect after labor analgesia.

The Anesthesiology Department of the CQHCWC:

Address: Area B, 4th Floor, Outpatient Department, Ranjiaba Branch of the CQHCWC

Service hours: 8 am-noon, 2-5:30 pm from Monday to Friday