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Pain Management

The birth of a child can be a wonderful experience for both mother and father. One of the most important aspects is to be prepared for the changes that occur during labor and to know how you can work with the medical staff to control your pain during delivery.

Every woman’s labor is unique and how you “feel” pain depends on many factors, such as the size and position of the baby, the strength of contractions, prior birth experience, and your tolerance to pain. Some women manage pain by taking classes to learn breathing and relaxation techniques. Others may find it helpful to use these techniques along with other pain relief options. The goal of the Anesthesia Service at Memorial Hermann is to provide comfort and care during your labor and delivery and to minimize risks to mother and baby. This page describes different methods of pain management available. Talk with your doctor about your options and preferences.

Remember that discussing your preference or signing a consent form for anesthesia does NOT obligate you to one technique of pain relief. You may always reconsider your options as labor progresses. Should you have further questions after reading this pamphlet, please call the Anesthesia Office at your hospital.

Comfort Measures

  • Having a support person at your side helps keep you focused
  • Relaxation and breathing techniques help control anxiety and pain throughout labor and are best learned in childbirth education classes
  • Distraction such as music or TV in early labor
  • Imagery is picturing yourself in a peaceful place
  • Massage and use of cold packs ease muscle tension
  • Your labor nurse will suggest other methods of easing your early labor pain
  • When contractions are closer together and stronger, rest in between, taking slow deep breaths

Types of Pain Relief

There are two types of pain relieving drugs, analgesics and anesthetics. An anesthesiologist will work with you and your health care team to select the best method for you.


  • Analgesia is the relief of pain without total loss of feeling or muscle movement. These drugs do not always stop pain completely, but do lessen it.

  • Anesthesia is blockage of all feeling, including pain. General anesthesia causes you to lose consciousness. Regional anesthesia removes all feeling of pain from specific parts of the body while you remain conscious.