Labor and Delivery Pain Management Options

There are many options for pain management during labor and delivery. You’ll want to check with your local delivery facility about specific pain management available, but here is a general idea of what you can expect. 

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide is a great option for patients who prefer a non-medicated delivery. It can also be used prior to receiving an epidural, or for those who are unable to get an epidural due to a medical condition or a very rapid labor.  

Other benefits include: 

  • Safe for you and your baby 
  • Works quickly 
  • Decreases anxiety 

IV Medications

IV medications may help to decrease pain (but will not totally relieve pain) and provide an opportunity to rest between contractions. Check out some of our IV medication options: 

  • Stadol (butorphanol) 
    Side Effects: sedation, floating feeling 
  • Nubain (nalbuphine hydrochloride) 
    Side Effects: nausea, dizziness, clammy skin 
  • Vistaril (hydroxyzine) 
    Side Effects: drowsiness, dry mouth 


An epidural blocks nerve signals from the lower part of your body, decreasing movement and sensation. You will still feel something, but you shouldn’t feel pain. Anesthesia staff are available in the hospital around the clock for patients desiring an epidural. Benefits include: 

  • Provide superior pain relief 
  • Pain coverage for repair of tears 
  • Provide sufficient anesthesia should a cesarean become necessary  

Water Birth

Water birth is a wonderful choice for those seeking a natural, non-medicated birth. Warm water immersion has been clinically shown to decrease pain and increase confidence and ease of movement during labor. Studies indicate that there is no increase in risk to either mom or baby during a water birth. 

Position Changes

Maternal movement during labor has been shown to decrease: 

  • Cesarean births 
  • Pain 
  • Tearing and episiotomies
  • Length of labor 

Even if you have an epidural, some of these positions can be very helpful. 

For more information, register for our Understanding Birth Course.