Your Epidural Questions Answered

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epidural

Deciding whether or not to use anesthesia during delivery can be a tough decision. Epidural anesthesia is one of the most popular forms of medication that provides pain relief during labor and delivery. In fact, almost half of all women who deliver in hospitals will receive an epidural. Below you will find some important facts about epidural anesthesia, including how it is administered and the effects it will have on you and your baby so that you can make an informed decision about the best course of action for your delivery.

Epidural anesthesia provides pain relief and can reduce anxiety. It provides some exhausted mothers with an opportunity to relax or sleep during labor.

What is an epidural?

Epidural anesthesia is one of the most popular forms of pain relief for mothers during labor and delivery, and can be used for both vaginal and cesarean birth. Epidural anesthesia blocks the pain in a specific region of the body by blocking the nerve impulses from the low spine. This results in decreased sensations in the lower half of the body, but not a total lack of feeling. You should be aware that the amount of pain relief you experience can vary. It is important to discuss with your anesthesiologist what type of feeling you would like to have during delivery. Both the type of medication used and the location of the epidural can have an effect on your experience.

Epidural anesthesia provides pain relief and can reduce anxiety. It provides some exhausted mothers with an opportunity to relax or sleep during labor. In some prolonged labors, in which stress hormones such as epinephrine slow contractions, an epidural can help the labor progress without the help of Pitocin.

{ MORE: Guess What? Longer Labors Are Totally Normal }

How is an epidural administered?

Your epidural will be administered by an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist, or perhaps even your obstetrician. You will either be asked to sit up or remain still while lying on your side. To minimize the chance of infection, the area will be swabbed with an antiseptic solution first, just as any other injection you’ve had in the past. To minimize the amount of pain you will experience from the epidural injection, your physician will inject local anesthetic into the injection site to numb it. A needle is then injected into the epidural space between lumbar vertebrae two (L-2) and five (L-5) in your low back, and a catheter (small tube) is then threaded through the needle. The needle is removed and the catheter remains, taped in position, and administers the anesthetic agent such as lidocaine or carbocaine, which decreases the sensation in your lower body. This anesthetic agent can be combined with a narcotic agent such as Demerol, morphine, or fentanyl.

What do you think? Your Epidural Questions Answered

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24 comments

  1. Avatar of ashley ashley says:

    This is my first baby

    and I’m almost in my 3rd trimester.
    I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about the epidural and don’t know what to expect. What do those of you who’ve experienced it think.

    • Avatar of Vikki Vikki says:

      This is my first too and I’ve both sides of the epidural story. I don’t let the bad cloud my judgment. Giving birth in general is a risk, medicated or not, and I already told my OB I don’t want to feel anything as much as possible. I’m not trying to wait and see how bad the pain gets, that’s crazy….for me. Why should I feel pain when I don’t have too?

  2. Avatar of Flo Flo says:

    I think it’s best to do your homework & speak with your doctor. Not every birth is the same & if your Dr knows your concerns I’m sure he/she will find out about the anesthesiologist to be sure that they know what they are doing. Me OB is great & I’ve shared all of my concerns with her. Right now I’m on bed rest & will be induced next Friday 12/20/13. Our son is pretty big & he is very low. I’m 35 weeks & 2 days & he’s over 8lbs. I don’t have diabetes or anything else, he’s just taking everything from me. That being said, my Dr feels that once she induces me he may come so soon that there won’t be time for an epidural, but if my pain is too bad, then we’ll do the epidural. At any rate, I trust her judgement, so by all means share your concerns with your OB. By the way, I’ve had killer migraines & high blood pressure but no other issues.
    Be blessed & I pray that all of you will have happy & healthy babies.

  3. Avatar of Kelsey Kelsey says:

    I didn’t get the epidural on my first pregnancy because I heard that my husband mom was almost paralize from the epidural and im planning my second pregnancy to be without epidural and normal.

  4. Avatar of Oliviaramon Oliviaramon says:

    Contractions hurt more as time goes buy but boy is it worth it(:

  5. Avatar of Allison Allison says:

    I do plan on having an epidural done. I hear that labor can be pretty painful and my baby is going to need me relaxed to deliver.

  6. i didnt get the epidural but i heard it does relax you while being in labor but also if you move wrong or if the doctor doesnt know what hr is doing you can get paralyzed and later down the line you will have back pains

  7. Avatar of Elfie Elfie says:

    They had to do the Epidural 4 times before it would take on my swollen body. And then it only worked on the right side. :/

  8. Avatar of Kaliaunna Kaliaunna says:

    Sigh, labor pain and delivery really scare me-this will be my first child-but it looks like you either suffer terribly for a short time, or suffer regularly for a long time by using an epidural. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do.

  9. Avatar of renee200823 renee200823 says:

    I had an epidural with my first child and the anesthesiologist ‘nicked’ my spinal sack and spinal fluid leaked giving me the most horrible spinal headaches I have ever had! Looking at all the side effects from an epidural is definitly something everyone should do before going into the hospital. this is my second pregnancy and I’m not even sure I’ll get one, the pain is bad but moving around and using a birthing ball will really help to releave the pain as to almost two weeks in bed with killer headaches!!

  10. Avatar of Tempesttls Tempesttls says:

    I agree I hope I can go natural and not have to have the epidural!

  11. Avatar of Pennier81 Pennier81 says:

    I really dont want an epidural this time. I had back pain along time after.

  12. I want an epidural, but my hospital recommends trying to go as long as possible, all the way if possible, without one.

  13. Avatar of JamJam JamJam says:

    i cant decide if i want an epi yet…i think i might pass on it and just have a water birth

  14. Avatar of Jeanetta Jeanetta says:

    A lot of great information, I’m going to get an epidural when I have my daughter and knowing the risks up front is important.

  15. with my first the epidural wasn’t put in right and ended up not working so i felt everything with my 2nd not a thing…idk how this one is going to go

  16. Avatar of Julie Julie says:

    This is my first child and I am getting the epidural.

  17. Avatar of lourdes lourdes says:

    i want to deliver my baby naturally but since its my first child i dont know how its going to feel so i just need to wait until im going to be in labor

  18. I’ve had a spinal tab before too and it hurt.

  19. Avatar of marylove marylove says:

    I have had a spinal tap done and was told that getting an epidural feels the same… With that in mind, there is no way I am ever getting an epidural!!! If I need a C-section, knock me out! I will go natural like I did with my first 2!

  20. Avatar of Brittney Brittney says:

    I want to get an epidural but I’m scared of the complications it may have during and afterwards.

  21. Avatar of My-My My-My says:

    i went all natural with my first… hopefully i can do it again!

  22. Avatar of Sasoo Sasoo says:

    I’m praying I won’t even need an epidural!

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