Childbirth: I.V. Medicines


Intravenous (I.V.) medicines may be used in childbirth to help with pain during labor. They also may help you relax. They include opioids and other medicines. You may get one or more medicines through an I.V.

How are these medicines given?

A nurse will insert a small tube into a vein in your arm (intravenously, or I.V.). They will then give the medicine through the I.V. tube.

What should you tell your doctor?

Tell your doctor about your health history. Let them know if you or a family member has had problems with anesthesia in the past. You can also talk to the doctor about medical and nonmedical pain relief options for childbirth. Plan for what you want. But be aware that things can change during labor.

Depending on your health conditions, your doctor may want to have an epidural catheter placed early in labor. This would only be used if needed. For example, you may plan to use nonmedical pain relief but then decide later that you want medicines. Or the catheter would be used to give you anesthesia if you need a cesarean (C-section) for your or your baby's health and safety.

What are the risks?

Major problems aren't common. But some side effects can occur. These may include dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. You may also feel drowsy. These medicines may not give enough pain relief. Depending on the dose and timing, they can affect the baby's breathing. They can also make the baby sleepy and less interested in breastfeeding.


Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.