Fentanyl is a narcotic that is sometimes administered during labor.  It is placed directly into an I.V. so an I.V. access is needed to receive this comfort measure.  One benefit of fentanyl is that it reacts very quickly.  A woman can often feels its effects within five minutes.  It also, however, wears off quickly.  Depending on the dose given, the affects wear off within 30 to 60 minutes.  Sometimes that is all the assistance a laboring woman needs to get on top of her labor with other coping skills.  The more doses that are administered, the less they work.  Fentanyl does go directly to the baby but while the baby is inside the mother, the mother’s body will metabolize the drug for the baby.  Often times Fentanyl will not be administered if the baby’s birth is believed to be possible within the next hour in an effort to avoid the baby having the narcotic in his/her system at birth.  The baby would then be given a drug called Narcan to counteract the effects.  Fentanyl does not take all the pain away.  It “takes the edge off.” If the contractions felt like this  “ >”  , with fentanyl they may feel like this  “)” .  Many women are better able to relax and even dose between contractions after receiving fentanyl.  Some say they feel fuzzy or dizzy.  Some women do not like the feeling at all.  For others, a dose or two of fentanyl is all they need to get caught up to their labor progress.

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