Pain Control During Labor
The use of narcotics during the last stages of labor presents some risk to your baby. Narcotic agents like Demerol will depress your baby's nervous system. Although most of the time this does not cause any damage, there is a risk that the drug could make matters worse if the baby has any other problems. For example, if there were any oxygen deprivation because of mechanical pressure on the umbilical cord, a chemically depressed baby would have a more difficult time recovering from that situation. It is important to have an open dialogue with your doctor about such risks and remember that you have the final word.
Another option is spinal anesthesia, also known as an epidural. This involves inserting a long needle into the lower spine and injecting a drug that deadens the lower half of the body. There is less chance that the drug will enter the baby's system because the blood-brain barrier will keep it within the cerebrospinal fluid system for several hours. The problem here is that the anesthetic will weaken the mother's ability to push, and there is a greater likelihood of the obstetrician having to use forceps to pull the baby out.