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Pain Control Options

Pain management options for labour

There are several different non-medical and medical options for pain management for labour. The Nursing staff and Physicians of the Childbirth Program at Queensway Carleton Hospital will work hard to support the choices you and your partner have made as part of your Birth Plan and to ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your baby.

During your labour and delivery, you will have one-on-one care provided by a Registered Nurse who is specially trained in providing labour support.

Non-medical options for pain management:

Some or all of these options may help you at different stages of your labour. If they don`t work the first time you try them, don`t be afraid to try them again later on. Non- medical options include:


  • Ambulation: move around or walk as much as you feel comfortable doing. There are wireless fetal monitors which can be used to monitor your contractions and baby if needed while walking.
  • Change positions: using a variety of different positions help to move the baby down or rotate to the proper position. We have several different items that may help you find a comfortable position such as birthing balls, chairs and a labour bed specifically designed to help make you as comfortable as possible.
  • Hydrotherapy: each of the private Labour and Delivery Rooms is furnished with a whirlpool jetted tub to help you with managing your pain during labour.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): although we do not provide TENS units, we support their use. Nurses can help you with the device if your choose to use it during early labour when it is the most effective.

Medical options for pain management:

Depending on the length of your labour and how you are coping, you may need the help of additional options for pain management that include medications. Medical options include:


  • Nitrous Oxide or Nitronox: better known as laughing gas. This gas is delivered by a mask you hold that covers your mouth and nose. During a contraction, you breathe in and out through the mask. The gas works quickly as you are breathing it but also quickly leaves your system as you breathe the air in the room.
  • Injections Narcotic Analgesic: these medications are given to you by an injection using a needle, usually in the thigh or backside. These medications take the edge of the contractions, can help you relax and make you drowsy. These medications can sometimes make you feel nauseous and are often given with a medication that will help with nausea, like Gravol.
  • Epidural: this is a type of freezing that is given to you by an Anesthesiologist through a tiny plastic tube inserted into a small space in your back. It numbs the nerves in parts of your lower body so that you don`t feel pain. It is best to wait until you are in good labour and your cervix is 3-4 cm dilated before getting an epidural. Often you will still feel pressure and have movement of your legs but you will not be able to get up and walk around until the freezing wears off. The medication or freezing is given to you using a pump so that there is continuous delivery to keep you comfortable during your labour. When it is time for delivery of your baby, you may be given an additional dose of medication to help with pain.