• Pain Relief Options During Childbirth

At RAMC, we are proud to incorporate the latest technological advances in anesthesia delivery systems and the most up-to-date techniques to provide our patients with complete anesthesia services. We were the first in the area to offer a complete labor analgesia program incorporating spinal narcotics for labor, epidural analgesia for labor, and combined spinal/epidural for labor pain control.

The anesthesia staff at RAMC realizes that you have a choice when it comes to your labor experience. We are here to answer all your questions and tailor a plan to your specific pain control needs.

Spinal (Intrathecal) Narcotic

This method involves placing a fine needle into the spinal fluid compartment of the woman’s back, and administering a potent narcotic medication into the spinal fluid. The advantage of Spinal Narcotic administration for labor pain relief is a more rapid onset of pain relief. This is a single shot technique with pain control lasting upwards of 3 hours.

Epidural medication for labor pain control:

This method is very similar to the ‘Spinal Narcotic’ technique. In this technique, an epidural needle is placed into the epidural space that is located adjacent to the spinal fluid compartment of the woman’s back. Through this epidural needle, a micro catheter or tube is placed into the epidural space.

The epidural needle is removed and the laboring mother receives a continuous infusion of pain control medication for relief of labor pain. This medication is frequently a local anesthetic in combination with a potent narcotic. 

This technique allows for excellent relief of pain while allowing the mother to continue to progress through her labor. This technique also offers the flexibility to keep the mother comfortable throughout her labor no matter how long the labor lasts. The medication used in ‘Labor Epidurals’ maintains the mother’s muscle strength thereby allowing the mother to walk and move around, appropriately named, the ’Walking Epidural’.

Finally, in the event that the mother requires surgical delivery of her child, this epidural catheter can be utilized for surgical anesthesia simply by changing the medication being administered through the epidural catheter. There is no need for another needle procedure.

Combined Spinal/Epidural for labor pain control (CSE):

This technique combines the advantages of speed of onset of pain control as in the Spinal Narcotic technique, and the flexibility to extend the pain control for the duration of the labor. This technique is often referred to as the ‘2 Step Technique’.

Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia (PCEA):

This technique for pain control places the control of medication delivery in the hands of the laboring mother. Once the epidural catheter is placed, the mother is given a trigger or push button device that allows her to control how much pain medication she receives. This technique works well when women experience episodes of intense pain. They can self-administer epidural medication to manage such episodes. Studies have shown that women use less overall medication with this technique.


Next Step: Labor and Delivery