Breathing and meditation techniques. Going drug-free during labor may be the most painful, but bounce-back is quicker for the drug-free mom and there are no side effects to worry about. Consider a prenatal class that will review the pros and cons of the different pain management options available in case you find yourself changing your mind in the thick of it (it happens!). A prenatal yoga and meditation class can prepare your body physically for birth through a variety of stretching and strengthening poses, as well ways to help you use breathing techniques and visualizations to relax and calm the mind during labor.
Nitrous Oxide. Yes, laughing gas! When mixed with oxygen at lower levels, nitrous oxide has analgesic and anxiety reducing properties that can distract you from the pain of childbirth. It’s safe for both mother and baby to use. It’s more common in Europe, but White Plains Hospital is one of the few hospitals in Westchester that offers this option to women. “It takes the edge off, helps to relax you,” notes Kerry Dineen, the hospital’s OB Navigator. “It works well for patients who don’t want pain medications, and those who labor so fast there isn’t time to administer an epidural.”
Analgesics. These drugs lessen pain without the loss of feeling or muscle movement. Typically narcotics, these drugs are usually given intravenously, and usually not an hour before you give birth because the side effects could make you groggy and your baby sleepy, making it more difficult to breastfeed – and look perky for those Insta snaps!
Epidural/Anesthesia. Administered via injection (usually around the spine) for the purpose of blocking nerve sensations, anesthetics prevent pain in one area of the body. They usually target the nerves that carry feeling to the vagina, vulva and perineum. There may be some loss of feeling in the lower part of your body, but you will remain awake and alert during the birth.
It’s common to use a combination of the above during delivery. Working with your doctor, both before and after the birth, you can create a plan and outline what you are willing or not willing to be open to when the situation arises. Or, when you find yourself in the moment, you can do a total 180. As long as you are in a hospital with a skilled and compassionate labor and delivery staff, that honors your personal preferences, and uses evidence-based procedures, you and your baby will be in good hands no matter how you decide to help him or her enter the world.
The White Plains Hospital Maternity Program is the regional leader in maternity and neonatal care. In fact, nearly 99 percent of maternity patients surveyed said they’d recommend the hospital to deliver their friends babies. For more information, visit our maternity program. In addition to a staff of Magnet nurses, the NICU has been awarded the Beacon Award for Excellence, in part for the special care it gives expectant mothers through high-risk pregnancies, as well as the Women’s choice Award for America’s Best Hospitals.