DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm about to have my first baby. Can you tell me about medications that may be used during childbirth? Will they pose any risks to my baby?
DEAR READER: Many medications can be given for pain relief during childbirth. Other drugs may be given to assist your labor. The pain medicines may not stop pain completely, but they will greatly lessen it. Narcotics such as meperidine (Demerol) are frequently used to relieve labor pain. If a baby is born soon after a mother receives any narcotic, the baby's rate of breathing may be slower than normal at birth. This effect generally is short-term. If it occurs, it can be reversed with an anti-narcotic drug.