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Childbirth Pain Management Options

Woman in labor in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors.

Childbirth Pain Management Options

Medical advancements in pain management continue to progress and there are now many options available to moms during labor and/or delivery. Options include:

  • Medications given through IV
  • Spinal Anesthesia (Intrathecal or Epidural)
  • Other Anesthesia (Pudendal Block and Local Anesthesia)

The advantages and disadvantages of the various options should be discussed with your doctor. They are outlined in Preparing For the Birth of Your Baby, the Richland Hospital publication you will receive from the hospital.

Richland Hospital’s Experienced and Compassionate Anesthetists

Our Anesthesia team includes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) Bryan McCarvel, Timothy Burns (retired), Mark Kamm and Rachel Shannon–Goodrich. CRNAs are advanced practice nurses with specialized graduate-level education in anesthesiology.

Richland Hospital's four Nurse Anesthetists standing in a group.

An experienced advocate who understands all of your options, is Richland Hospital Nurse Anesthetist, Rachel Shannon–Goodrich, CRNA, APNP. She joined the Richland Hospital anesthesia team with a great deal of experience in anesthesia options for mothers during childbirth. With this addition to the team, we are able to expand and enhance our already existing services to obstetrics and labor analgesia.

Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she earned her degree, more than 30 years ago, from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Anesthesia. Later, she began working in Wisconsin with obstetrics patients, managing epidurals at West Allis Memorial Hospital in West Allis, WI. “Epidurals are an adjunct to childbirth without surgical procedures,” Shannon–Goodrich said. “If natural childbirth becomes too much for the mom to cope with, an epidural is an option,” she said. With her experience, Shannon-Goodrich brings the understanding that epidurals have changed a great deal in the past 20 years.

Epidural management has become a finely tuned practice that can offer huge benefits to patients and babies. “There is more information out there and what we can provide the patient with is improved,” she said. “We now have greater availability and affordability that has come to us through the trickle down from larger facilities paving the way.”

Today, patients can be very mobile, move around in bed to stay comfortable, and still have muscle control. “The use of a properly managed epidural can take something that is unmanageable and out of control and make it something that both people can participate in,” Shannon-Goodrich said. “Mothers can push and maintain a feeling of control during the delivery.”

Shannon-Goodrich feels it is important to learn as much as possible about pain relief options prior to “delivery day,” so parents are equipped and ready to make decisions throughout the birth experience. Understanding the different types of epidurals, how each is administered, and the benefits and potential risks will prepare you to make an informed decision for you and your baby as your birth unfolds. “It’s important to know possible side effects, but it is also important to know the percentage of chance that bad things can happen,” she said. “Bad outcomes are very rare.”

“There is nothing bad about natural childbirth and I would never take anything away from that,” she said. “Circumstances can arise during labor that epidurals can help.” According to Shannon-Goodrich, Epidurals can help in certain medical conditions; bringing down the mother’s blood pressure, increasing uterine profusion, and decreasing stress on the baby.