Photo Credit: Getty Images
5. Epidural anesthesia is the pain-reliever of choice. Almost two-thirds of the mothers in this survey used epidural analgesia, including 59 percent who had a vaginal birth. Mothers gave high ratings to the ability of epidurals to relieve labor pain (78 percent), but many (38 to 83 percent) were not aware of potential risks of this pain relief method. Three out of ten women reported being given narcotics, such as Demerol or Stadol, while a small number of moms had general anesthesia (five percent), nitrous oxide (two percent) or a local block (two percent). Eighty-eight percent of mothers used at least one "drug-free" method for pain relief. Most commonly used were breathing techniques (61 percent) and position changes (60 percent). Three out of ten women used hands-on techniques, such as massage, stroking or acupressure, and the same number used mental strategies, such as visualization, relaxation and hypnosis. Two infrequently cited techniques, immersion in a tub or pool (six percent) and taking a shower (eight percent), were rated most helpful by their users. Learn more about epidurals and labor comfort measures.
6. Eating and drinking is rarely permitted during labor. Just one woman out of eight in the survey (12 percent) had anything to eat during labor, and one in three (31 percent) had anything to drink at this time. Far more women expressed an interest in drinking and/or eating, and many reported that their caregivers did not permit eating and/or drinking, even in the case of vaginal births.