Birth Planning, Comfort Measures

A brief overview of medications for pain in childbirth

According to the Listening to Mother’s II Survey, 76% of American women use an epidural for pain relief during labor. New Zealand reports a 24% epidural rate, and 45% of Canadian women use epidurals when they give birth. What do the other women do?

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide is a gas that can be used during labor. It is common in Australia and parts of the United Kingdom. It can be more difficult to find in Canada and is practically unavailable for labor in the United States.


Narcotic Analgesics are injected into a muscle or an IV. They provide for about two hours of relief from strong contractions, but do not completely remove the sensation. 22% of the participants in the Listening to Mother’s II Survey used Narcotics during labor.


Some women are offered the use of tranquilizers during labor. These medications do not remove pain. Instead they help a mother remain calm or put her to sleep.


Jennifer (Author)