Linda Murray: How many women use pain medication? There are a few different options for pain medication during labor. The most common being an epidural. If we lump them all together, one U.S. survey shows that 86 percent of women used drugs to cope with labor pain, the blue part of the chart. And 14 percent go drug-free, the yellow part. This survey involved women of different backgrounds from all over the country, so it gives us a good idea of the overall rate of medication used during labor. But the rate can vary dramatically by region, hospital, or caregiver.
It’s important to understand that natural techniques help you cope with pain, but they don’t eliminate it. If you want stronger relief, you’ll need to consider pain medication.
Usually, you need to decide during the first stage of labor whether you want drugs. By the time you start pushing, it can be too late for an epidural to provide enough relief before labor will be over. Plus it can be hard to hold still for the procedure at that point. With certain other drugs, it’s not good for your baby if you take them late in labor. Occasionally, exceptions are made and women do get pain medication in the pushing stage. There’s a range of options available to you. Some medications dull your pain, helping you bear it, while others block the pain so you don’t feel it. With most medications, you’ll need an IV and monitoring and you’ll be told to stay in bed.