Should You Try a Walking Epidural?
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I chose a nurse-midwife for my healthcare provider. As I approached my due date, she casually asked me if I had any plans for pain control.
“Oh, I’m not really sure what I want to do,” I replied. “I’m not opposed to an epidural, but I’m also not positive I want one …”
“Well, I don’t do epidurals, so that settles that!” she interrupted me brightly, gathering up her chart and swiftly exiting the room.
Fast forward to one week before my due date, when my contractions had fizzled out, Pitocin had been started, and after laboring for two days, I was losing my grip. While I had enjoyed laboring in a tub for the majority of my labor thus far, I seemed to be stuck at only 5 cm dilated—and I was exhausted, physically and mentally, almost willing my body to give me a break.
My midwife gently brought up the option of some outside pain relief and I stared at her in a fog of confusion.
“What? I thought you didn’t do epidurals?” I asked, frustrated that she was discussing this again.
Turns out, my midwife didn’t do traditional epidurals, but she did offer me the option of a “walking epidural,” something I had never even heard of.
So what is a walking epidural?
A walking epidural is like a one-time, watered-down version of an epidural. Instead of a continues flow of medication into the epidural space like a traditional epidural, which effectively numbs the lower half of your body, in a walking epidural, medication is injected into the intrathecal space.
Although reactions will vary, the walking epidural is designed to eliminate a large portion of a woman’s pain during labor while still effectively allowing her some freedom of movement. For instance, some women are still able to walk to the bathroom or change positions as needed. With traditional epidurals, women are often restricted to bedrest and have to have their bladders emptied via a catheter by their labor nurse.
The walking epidural usually provides pain relief from 2-4 hours and depending on your center’s policy, may be able to be adjusted and/or repeated as necessary.
Did you have a walking epidural? Would you consider one for your labor?