Motherhood is an expression of completion of a woman’s life. It is undoubtedly a fascinating phase in the journey of a woman’s life. Yet, another aspect associated to motherhood is the immense pain during labor and the apprehensions of having a normal delivery. In such a scenario, the doctors are actively working on finding ways where expectant women can pass the process of giving birth to a new life through a natural process of ‘Painless Delivery’.
Can delivery be really painless?
The process of giving birth to a new life is an amazing miracle of nature. When this process is done by giving labor analgesia to the expectant mother at the time of delivery ensuring a natural delivery with minimal amount of pain, it is commonly known as painless labor. This is a mechanism which reduces the chances of C-section in a large number of cases.
The pain sensation during the labor pain is caused by strong uterine contractions. Since the nerves that carry pain sensations areblocked at the spinal level, the pain sensation does not reach the brain where the pain is felt. Thus, the pregnant woman is able to deliver the child with very little or no pain.
The Painless Delivery Mechanism
The Painless Delivery is possible by using Epidural Anaesthesia in which the woman is passed with anesthesia medicine in the back using a small pipe. This procedure is continued till the time delivery happens. Despite being fully conscious during the labor pain, the epidural offers continuous pain relief to the lower part of the body. During this process, the overall sensation decreases thereby relieving the woman from the feeling of pain. All this while, the pregnant woman remains conscious without going through the pain all the while. After the delivery, the dilation process occurs normally yet the feeling of contraction pain is reduced to a great extent.
The anesthetic medications passed through the epidural space act in two ways. One, the nerves leaving the spinal column is blocked by these medicines thereby blocking the nerve conduction. This produces an analgesic effect on the patient. Further, these opioid medicines block the opioid receptors in the spinal column, which also cause relief from labor pain. The effect of medication may be analgesic or anesthetic depending upon the concentration in which the medicine has been used. Higher concentration of medicine leads to blocking of sensation in the nerves causing anesthesia. But if the concentration of the same medicine is reduced largely, the impact of medicine only blocks the pain fibers. This, then, causes analgesia in which the pain relief is offered without any signs of muscle weakness.
Techniques involved in Painless Delivery
The two main techniques that are used to administer an epidural are:
Single shot epidural: It is done by injecting the opioid medication in the epidural space by giving an injection on the patient’s back under doctor’s supervision. This injection may be given in either the cervical, thoracic or lumbar region.
Epidural catheter technique: Another technique involves a fine bore tube to be passed into the epidural space. Then, the medication can be deposited into the epidural space either continuously or intermittently.
Contraindications for an Epidural Anaesthesia
- If any of the following five symptoms exist in the expectant mother, then Epidural Anaesthesia should not be considered.
- If the pregnant mother is having some heart ailment,
- In case the blood pressure becomes low due to some reason,
- If she is having anatomical complications in the spinal column,
- In case of any sort of skin infectionat the site where epidural is to be given,
- If there is any known allergy to the local anaesthetic drug.
Advantages of using Epidural Anaesthesia:
Epidural is a safe and effective way of relief during labor pain making painless delivery possible.
The dosage of the medicine can be completely adjusted by the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist who regulates the relief. This control plays a very significant role because as the labor progresses and the baby gradually moves farther down into the birth canal, the dosage requires variation since it is possible that it is not sufficient enough to cover the pain, or the pain may get shifted to some different area.
Another advantage of using this localized medication technique is that the expectant mother remains alertand awake during labor and birth. This painless labor offers such immense relief to the pregnant mother that she may even rest and sleep comfortably as the cervix dilates.
Yet another benefit is that the expectant mother saves sufficient energy which can utilize at the time of pushing. Since very minuscule amount of medication reaches your baby as compared to the use of systemic narcotics, this keeps the relatively safer and even the mother is ready for breast feeding much earlier.