Analgesics and narcotics

These medications include butorphanol (Stadol), fentanyl (Sublimaze), meperidine (Demerol), nalbuphine (Nubain).

When they're administered

Narcotics can be given anytime in labor, but they're favored in earlier labor — when you're dilated less than 7 centimeters (cm) if you're a first-time mom or less than 5 cm if you've given birth before.

How they're administered

The medications are injected into a muscle in your thigh or buttocks or injected into an IV catheter. In some instances, you may be able to control your dosage by pressing a button that injects a fixed dose of the medication into your IV.

How they affect you

Depending on the dose, these medications decrease the perception of pain and make it easier to rest. They usually don't diminish your ability to push. They last from two to six hours, depending on the type used.

Possible concerns

These medications can cause sleepiness. At high doses, they can cause depressed respirations in the mother and baby. These effects are reversible. More frequently, these medications can decrease your memory of labor.

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