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Alternative and Medical Options

Many effective comfort measures are available during labor by simply using everyday tools and techniques , but there are additional options that require advance planning , trained personnel , or medical management .
TENS Units
Acupuncture / Acupressure
A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Acupuncture involves inserting needles under ( TENS ) unit is a hand-held device connected to the skin at specific points on the body to pads ( surface electrodes ) placed on the middle release endorphins . Acupressure uses the same or lower back during labor . It sends electrical points applying steady pressure . Acupuncture impulses that stimulate nerves , reduce pain should be done only by a trained professional . sensations and can increase endorphins . You or your partner may use acupressure , but it
Because it uses electric impulses , a TENS is important to learn the key pain relief pressure cannot be used with water and may interfere points for your body ahead of time . with electronic fetal monitors . Anyone can buy and use a TENS unit , but advance education


or training is beneficial . Availability varies in Medical Options different birth settings .
These options are available only while under medical care . For more details on medical options , see pages 18-20 .
Sterile water blocks involve injecting sterile water just below the skin in four locations on the lower back . They can relieve back pain without side effects and can be repeated . They are usually more effective in early labor .
Nitrous oxide is inhaled during a contraction using a mask or mouth piece . Its effects are almost immediate and its use is completely patient-controlled . Nitrous oxide is considered to be safe and effective , although some women report dizziness or nausea .
The use of essential oils , herbs , tinctures or other homeopathic products for comfort may be an option , but they are most appropriate if you are experienced with and use homeopathic products regularly . Because of the risk of a reaction , it is unwise to introduce them for the first time during labor .
Opioids are a class of drugs that are used to reduce pain and relax muscles . In labor , they are given through an IV or injection .
An epidural is given by inserting a small tube ( catheter ) into the epidural space around the spinal cord . Medication to numb the lower half of the body is then given continuously through the catheter .
Comfort Measures