Coping with pain during labor

pregnant woman in labor

Managing pain without medicine

Focused breathing. Breathing pattern techniques taught in childbirth preparation classes can be very helpful. 

Walking. Walk and move during labor to reduce pressure in your back and body.It’s fine to walk around as long as we don’t need to monitor your baby continuously.

Hydrotherapy. Spending time in the shower during early labor can reduce pain and stress and help with a slow or difficult labor.

Massage. Your partner or labor support person can massage your shoulders and lower back during contractions.

Managing pain with medicine

Analgesics are drugs that reduce pain and increase relaxation without causing complete loss of feeling or muscle control.


  • You’ll stay awake, but may be drowsy.
  • You’ll be able to walk, which can help labor progress faster.
  • You can still have an epidural if the analgesic is not enough.
  • They can help with pain relief after childbirth, too.


  • Pain is reduced, but not eliminated.
  • We can only give them in the early stages of labor.
  • You might have nausea or vomiting.

An epidural block is numbing medication injected into your lower back through a small tube. While it reduces pain, you can still feel your lower body and can push during labor.


  • You’ll be mostly pain-free from the waist down.
  • Once you’re in active labor you can usually have an epidural anytime — until your baby’s head begins to crown.
  • It can work for many hours.You’ll be awake and alert.


  • It’s a process — it takes time to prepare and 15 to 30 minutes before you feel pain relief.
  • We can’t give you an epidural if you’re too close to the pushing stage.If you don’t plan to have an epidural but change your mind during labor, we may need to help you manage your pain in a different way.
  • Delivering your baby could take longer.
  • You won’t be able to walk.

A spinal block is similar to an epidural, but it’s usually given only before a C-section. It’s also injected through a small tube in your lower back. 


  • You’ll feel immediate pain relief from the waist down.
  • You’ll be awake and alert.


  • It only works for 1 to 2 hours.
  • You won’t be able to walk.