SVMC Provides Multiple Options for Pain Management During Labor and Delivery

Contact: Eileen Druckenmiller
(802) 447-5558

BENNINGTON — Pain management during labor and delivery is an important aspect of a woman’s birth experience. In a response to community need, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) is now offering epidurals to pregnant women who deliver at the hospital. The first epidural was performed in late May.

“Our goal is to make a woman’s experience when she delivers her baby what she envisions it to be,” said Shiela Boni, administrative director of inpatient services. “We have a whole continuum of comfort measures we can provide women in labor, from visual imagery to hydrotherapy to medication. Often, women use more than one method to control their pain. By offering epidurals, we’re able to meet the need for another level of pain management on the continuum.”

An epidural involves a regional anesthesia. Regional anesthesia, such as the Novocain the dentist gives you, relieves pain in or numbs only one part of the body. For a woman in labor, an epidural will relieve the pain of a contraction while still allowing her to be aware of them and still push effectively.

“Epidurals are a safe, reliable, minimally-invasive way to give almost total pain relief to a woman in labor,” said Dr. William Kelley, an anesthesiologist at SVMC. “The analgesic we use does not impede a woman’s ability to push during labor, does not increase the rate of C-sections and does not affect the baby in any negative way.”

“While a spinal anesthesia will wear off in a specified amount of time, an epidural is very effective for a woman who wants pain relief, but will be in labor for an unknown period of time;” said Boni.

“If we do have to perform an emergency C-section,” added Dr. Kelley, “an epidural provides a smooth transition for the patient very quickly. It allows our medical team to do what is best for the mother and her baby with less disruption.”

Said Boni, “The amount of pain medication used during delivery is a personal choice. For some mothers-to-be, an epidural is the best fit for their beliefs and preferences.”

Agreed Kelley, “By adding epidurals as an option for our patients in labor, we’re able to offer our community members the most state-of-the-art program for pain management.”

Women who are expecting should discuss pain management options with their obstetrician or an anesthesiologist at their hospital prior to delivery. Since there is no way to know how a particular delivery will go, mothers-to-be should remain flexible and should try to become well-informed of all their options before being admitted in labor.

“At SVMC, we offer one-to-one attention from a labor-and-delivery nurse and a variety of birthing options,” added Boni. “We’re known for quality, highly personalized care on the Women’s and Children’s Unit.

“Pain management is one part of the larger picture, but a very personalized and important part. We’re here to help make a birth an experience that a new mother will remember with lasting joy. Offering a full range of comfort measures is a part of that process.”

SVMC is a part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC). SVHC is a community-based, not-for-profit health system that exists solely for the benefit of its community. SVHC has a vision to make the communities it serves the healthiest in the nation. To find out more, visit