Women's Health and Education Center (WHEC)

Pain Management During Labor and Delivery

List of Articles

  • Analgesia & Anesthesia
    The terms analgesia and anesthesia are sometimes confused in common usage. Obstetric analgesia is the loss or regulation of pain perception during labor. It may be local and affect only a small area of the body; regional and affect a larger portion; or systemic. Analgesia is achieved by the use of hypnosis (suggestion), systemic medication, regional agents, or inhalation agents. Anesthesia is the total loss of sensory perception, and may include loss of consciousness. It is induced by various agents and techniques. In obstetrics, regional anesthesia is accomplished with local anesthetic techniques (epidural, spinal) and general anesthesia with systemic medication and endotracheal intubation. It is helpful in decreasing maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Labor results in severe pain for many women. Pain management should be provided whenever it is medically indicated. The use of techniques and medications to provide pain relief in obstetrics requires and expert understanding of their effects to ensure the safety of both mother and fetus.

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