Published on November 01, 2016

Easing the pain during delivery

Palmer Lutheran delivery

Marilu Schauer, of West Union, Iowa, meets with Ken Beach, CRNA, during a recent appointment at Gundersen Palmer.

Childbirth is a joyous experience, but it also takes planning and preparation.

"Every woman withstands the stress and pain of labor in her own way," explains Ken Beach, certified registered nurse anesthetist, Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital and Clinics. "Our goal is to provide every woman with optimal pain control options while still maintaining their sense of control."

Women who deliver at Gundersen Palmer West Union have several options to manage their pain. Gundersen Palmer‘s nursing staff offers continuous labor support and encourages a variety of comfort measures. They can coach mothers in various relaxation and breathing techniques.

In addition, many mothers have the opportunity to use a birthing ball or sit in a whirlpool.

"The birthing ball can relieve pain for those having back labor," says Beach. "Many mothers also find comfort in our whirlpool. The pain relief properties of water are safe, simple and effective. The warm water causes blood vessels to enlarge and increases circulation. It can also help lower blood pressure."

In addition, there are also holistic treatments mothers can receive, such as massage, aroma therapy, music therapy and even dancing.

For women who need more advanced pain management, Gundersen Palmer offers these options:

  • Nitrous oxide: The mother is given a mask that she can put up to her face and inhale nitrous oxide whenever she needs it. Nitrous oxide has few side effects for the mother, and it does not affect the baby.
  • Intrathecals: A small needle is placed between bones in the mother’s spine and into a fluid-filled sac around the spinal nerves. As the needle is not left, a mother may walk around.
  • Epidurals: An epidural involves placing a small catheter in the epidural space of the mother’s lower spinal canal.

The continual-drip medications numb her lower body, including her legs, which may limit mobility. Unlike other pain reliever options, the mother must remain in bed with an epidural. The risks associated with an epidural are minimal.

For more information about pain management during labor at Gundersen Palmer, call (563) 422-3811 or talk with your primary care provider.