Childbirth: Opioid Pain MedicinesSkip to the navigation
To help control the pain and stress of labor, you may get pain medicines. The medicine can be injected into a vein or into the muscle. The most common pain medicines used are opioids. They are also known as narcotics. Examples include fentanyl, morphine, and nalbuphine.
How opioids work for labor pain
Opioids suppress how you perceive pain, and they calm your emotional response to pain. They do this by reducing the number of pain signals sent by the nervous system to the brain. They also reduce the brain's reaction to those pain signals.
An opioid can help you relax between contractions and decrease the pain. But it does not take all the pain away.
The most common side effects of opioids include:
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded, or like you might faint.
- Feeling drowsy.
- Feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting.
Opioids are not used when you are close to delivery. That's because they can affect a newborn's breathing. They can also make the baby sleepy and less interested in breastfeeding if they are given close to delivery.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofMay 30, 2016
Current as of: May 30, 2016
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.