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Keywords:

  • Analgesia;
  • Anesthesia;
  • Intrapartum;
  • Pain

Labor and birth, although viewed as a normal physiological process, can produce significant pain, requiring appropriate pain management. Systemic analgesia and regional analgesia/anesthesia have become less common, whereas the use of newer neuraxial techniques, with minimal motor blockade, have become more popular. Low- and ultra-low-dose epidural analgesia, spinal analgesia, and combination spinal-epidural analgesia have replaced the once traditional epidural for labor. The shift from regional anesthesia during labor, in which the woman became a passive participant during the labor and birth, to a collaborative approach for pain management, in which the woman becomes an active participant, has resulted in a new philosophy of labor analgesia. This article provides a review of the current systemic analgesics and regional and neuraxial analgesia/anesthesia techniques for pain management in labor and birth. Also addressed are implications for perinatal nurses who participate in pain management choices during labor and birth.