Anesthesiology and Pain Relief for Labor

Close up of woman holding baby

We take your preferences seriously

You'll have a variety of choices to help you give birth with the level of pain relief that you prefer.

Our goal is to help you achieve your goals for your birth experience. Whether you prefer to have a natural birth experience with minimal medication or to minimize the pain of labor as much as possible, our team can help you achieve your goal.

More options than any other area hospital

Techniques for non-medication pain relief include hydrotherapy, water birth, birthing balls and stools, massage, walking, breathing and more. 

For moms wanting additional pain relief, a designated obstetric anesthesiologist is available 24-hours a day, every day of the year, to explain your options and provide pain relief during your labor. 

OHSU offers more options for labor pain relief than any other area hospital including:

  • Patient-controlled epidural anesthesia (PCEA). An epidural that allows you to control the amount of medication you receive. Our PCEA uses one of the lowest concentrations of numbing medicine in the country to give you much control over your body movements while the epidural is in place. 
  • Programmed Intermittent Epidural Bolus (PIEB). This method is recognized for quality by the Society for Obstetric Anesthesiology and Perinatology. Studies show this method provides better pain relief with less medication than a continuous epidural.
  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for anxiety and pain management. Your provider will talk to you about nitrous oxide and what you can expect. A nurse will bring equipment into the room, provide additional instructions and monitor your use.
  • Remifentanil Patient Controlled Intravenous Analgesia. This advanced option is for patients with bleeding disorders or neurologic conditions who  cannot have an epidural.
  • Fentanyl. This intravenous pain medication is available for those who want natural childbirth, but would like some pain relief.

Unmatched expertise

  • We have an expert team with decades of experience caring for the most rare and critical issues during pregnancy. 
  • We have only the best anesthesiologists on our labor floor. Most have received specialized training in obstetrics and many are regional and national leaders in their field.

You can expect

  • Experienced nurses, dedicated to your birthing support
  • Staff who are fully engaged and supportive of natural birth
  • 24-hour physicians, certified nurse-midwives, anesthesiologists with specialized obstetric training, and other specialists on-site
  • Attention to your birth plan
  • Inclusion of your birth partner and/or doula
  • Respect for your interests and choices
  • Small comforts: free WiFi, lights that dim, jetted tub and shower, birthing balls, stools, ice chips, etc.