Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Childbirth: Opioid Pain Medicines
To help control labor pain and stress, an injection of pain
medicine can be given into a vein (intravenous) or into the muscle
(intramuscular). The most common pain medicines used are
opioids. Opioids are also known as narcotics. Examples
of opioids include fentanyl, morphine, and
Opioid analgesics suppress your perception of pain and calm your emotional response to pain by reducing the number of pain signals sent by the nervous system and the brain's reaction to those pain signals.
An opioid can help you relax between contractions and decrease the
pain but does not take the pain away completely. Opioids make you drowsy for a
short time and can slow your labor. But opioids are less likely than
epidural anesthesia to cause you to have a forceps or
The most common side effects of opioids include:
Opioids are not used when you are close to delivery, because they can
affect a newborn's breathing. They can also make
the baby sleepy and less interested in breast-feeding if they are given close to delivery.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Forceps delivery and
vacuum extraction. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp.
511–526. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofJune 4, 2014
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.