Using Local Anesthesia During Labor
Local anesthesia is injected into a specific area to provide pain relief during labor. Local anesthesia is given through various medications and dosages in the form of epidurals, pudendal blocks, and spinal blocks. It is also given near the end of birth for an episiotomy, to relieve the discomfort of the perineum stretching and also after birth to repair tears and episiotomies.
When used at the end of birth or after birth, medication such as procaine (Novocain), lidocaine (Dalcaine, Dilocaine, L-Caine, Nervocaine, Xylocaine), and tetracaine (Pontocaine) are injected into the skin, muscle, or cervix for the fast, temporary relief of pain in the perineal area.
Though rare, local anesthesia may be injected into the perineum when the baby’s head position will not allow a pudendal block to be administered. This will ease the pain of the perineum stretching, but will not relieve the discomfort of contractions during labor.
Are there any risks when using local anesthesia to relieve discomfort in the perineum?
Studies show there are no significant risks, except for rare allergic reactions. Some believe the injection may cause swelling of the perineal tissue and increase the likelihood of tearing if an episiotomy is not done. However, Kegel exercises can significantly strengthen the perineum.
Perineal massage, along with warm compresses, can also reduce the risk of tearing or the need for an episiotomy.