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What Options Do Modern Indian Women Have to Alleviate Labor Pains?

Updated on March 29, 2016

Techniques for Painless Normal Baby Delivery

Increasing medicalization of the human body, especially in developing countries which have been battling with infant mortality, have resulted in an increase in the number of cesarean-section births. Even until 2010, the percentage of C-sections were at 8.5% of total deliveries in the country, which is well under the recommended percentage of 10-15%, as per a World Health Organization report. In the more recent years, certain states in India have especially seen a huge spike in the number of C-section births, both in the urban and rural areas. However, further inspection of the matter reveals that the choice of unnecessary C-section is not just from the physician but also from the patients, reported Quartz India in January 2015. This is because the women are afraid the third stage of normal baby delivery where labor pains from contractions can be acute. Unfortunately, this is indicative of the lack of information that plagues modern mothers, as there are many options for painless delivery available in India these days.

Epidural

This is one of the most popular alternatives that the modern Indian woman has to alleviate labor pains. It involves taking an injection in the lower back through which a catheter is inserted. The tube is barely the size of a thread and it is through this that drugs are injected into the spine to facilitate a painless delivery. These local anesthetics cause the veins to numb without restricting a woman's ability to move. Moreover, there is also the option of Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia (PCEA), wherein the patient herself can be in control of the amount of analgesics injected into her body with the use of a small pump that helps her to moderate the supply, depending on how acute the pain is. While the entire process is largely safe, some women may experience a fall in blood pressure on administration of epidural, which is why she has to be clinically monitored throughout the process. There are some women who may complain of lower back pain after the delivery, but the chances of this are one in 100, according to the information provided by Rainbow Hospitals. Very rarely women may also experience headaches from leakage of spinal fluids. However, in most cases, epidural makes childbirth a pleasant experience for mothers who in the absence of acute pain, are able to enjoy the birthing process.

Pudendal Nerve Block

A transvaginal Pudendal nerve block entails taking an injection on the vaginal wall, which then numbs the perineum or the area between the anus and the vagina. This method has been used for minor surgeries and assisted normal baby delivery since 1916, but it became popular in the 50s when Klink and Kohl implemented a modified technique, states an article in MedScape. The Pudendal nerve has three branches that include the dorsal nerve of the clitoris, the perineal branch which includes the perineum, the labia major and minor and the inferior hemorrhoid nerve which controls the external anal sphincter and the perianal skin. This is usually done in cases in which the obstetrician or midwife is opting for an episiotomy i.e. an incision on the perineum and the posterior wall of the vagina to widen the passage for the baby during birth. It helps to alleviate the pain of the incision as well, to some extent, that of the contractions and the dilation.

Entonox

Entonox refers to a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide that the patient is made to inhale during labor. The effects of this gas helps in pain relief and this technique is often used in case of failed epidurals. While this technique does not ensure a completely painless delivery, it does relieve pain by as much as 60-70 per cent,according to an article in The Hindu. However, in some cases, it has been associated with light-headedness, dryness of tongue, tingling sensations etc. In such cases, inhaling atmospheric air alleviates these symptoms in a matter of minutes. Like epidural, Entonox too is a self-administered analgesic, so the patient has control over the amount she inhales depending on her own subjective experience of pain.

The discussion of childbirth as a feminist issue has existed globally for a while, but Indian women are yet to take an active participation in the discussion. A woman's right to choose a birthing method and a technique of pain alleviation is an essential component of that discussion. However, in order to make an informed choice, it is necessary to educate pregnant woman about what they can expect and what their comprehensive range of options are.

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