Introduction

Childbirth is usually highly anticipated and a happy experience. However, it can be accompanied by severe pain; Melzack demonstrated that only the pain of causalgia or digit amputation exceeds that of labor (Melzack 1975). He also demonstrated that the severity of pain varied greatly among women (Melzack et al. 1984) and 30-75% of parturients characterized their pain as severe or intolerable. Painless labor is a reality for only a small minority of women. It is thus fortunate that pain relief in labor is accepted as part of the childbirth experience. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) emphasizes in their committee opinion #118 that, "maternal request is a sufficient justification for pain relief during labor."

Labor pain is actually the result pain stimuli which include intermittent uterine contraction pain (which is felt in the abdomen and/or back), continuous back pain, and cervical and vaginal pain related to cervical dilatation and movement of the fetus through the birth canal (Fig. 22.1). The severity of pain may be increased with occipit posterior presentation and dystocia. Primiparous labor is more painful than subsequent labors. Augmentation or induction of labor with oxytotic drugs is reported to result in increased labor pain (Lowe 1987). Cultural expectations also affect the maternal response to labor pain.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

If Pregnancy Is Something That Frightens You, It's Time To Convert Your Fear Into Joy. Ready To Give Birth To A Child? Is The New Status Hitting Your State Of Mind? Are You Still Scared To Undergo All The Pain That Your Best Friend Underwent Just A Few Days Back? Not Convinced With The Answers Given By The Experts?

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