Whether or not to go in for pain relief during the delivery is a decision your spouse will make, in consultation with her obstetrician.
The following are the three common methods of pain relief used by doctors:
Local anesthesia: Local anesthesia works by numbing sensations of pain. An obstetrician may use it to eliminate pain that is restricted to a specific part of the body. It is used, for instance, during a cesarean delivery, to manage pain arising due to the surgical procedure. Local anesthesia does not reduce labor pains.
Regional anesthesia: This is also known as epidural or spinal anesthesia. It is usually administered by an anesthesiologist. Both, epidural and spinal anesthesia, involve the injecting of a drug in the lower back. This drug blocks pain in a wide region of the body. Regional anesthesia is used to manage the pain during labor and delivery. It may also be used during a cesarean. The main advantage of using regional anesthesia is that the mother is awake and conscious during the childbirth.
General anesthesia: General anesthesia acts by making the mother unconscious during the birthing process. Unfortunately, this prevents the mother from holding and tending to the newborn immediately after birth. For this reason, it is used only in case of an emergency during childbirth.