The nature and management of labor pain: part I. Nonpharmacologic pain relief.
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Pain in labor is a nearly universal experience for childbearing women. A recent evidence-based symposium on the nature and management of labor pain brought together family physicians, obstetricians, midwives, obstetric anesthesiologists, and childbirth educators to discuss a series of commissioned systematic reviews. Although management of labor pain plays a relatively minor role in a woman's satisfaction with childbirth compared with the quality of the relationship with her maternity caregiver and the degree of participation she has in decision making, it is an important topic for women and their caregivers. Nonpharmacologic methods of pain relief such as labor support, intradermal water blocks, and warm water baths are effective techniques for management of labor pain. An increased availability of these methods can provide effective alternatives for women in labor.