Pregnancy and Health

What is an Epidural? Painless Birth


What is an Epidural? Painless Birth

An epidural is a type of anesthesia that is injected into mother’s lower back for painless birth or delivery. It is basically an anesthesia which is locally available and is used with a needle and a tiny tube called as catheter.  It is usually given by an anesthetist. An epidural is always given in the lower back of pregnant women to reduce the labor pain. It basically blocks the nerve and stops the pain signals from your spine to brain.

How an epidural works?

It causes numbness in the lower pelvic region and makes the mother feel only pressure. After an epidural is given it takes about 10 to 15 minutes for it to work. The pain from contractions is not felt by the mother. She only feels the pressure in pelvic region and the doctor, midwife or the birth partner can tell her when to push or she herself can push as the urge to push is felt during the entire delivery process. So in conclusion, after an epidural you can only feel the second stage of labor that is pushing. The first stage of labor involving pain and contractions is not felt at all.

How an epidural is given?

Before an epidural is given a drip of fluids is put in your arm. This is important as after epidural you will not be able to move as you can feel numbness in your legs too. You cannot walk or you cannot feel pressure on your feet. It also helps in maintaining the blood pressure as an epidural can result in low blood pressure.

You will be asked to bend with your legs folded and close to your belly. If you want to take an epidural injection then you will have a catheter attach to your lower back which will give continuous medication in small amounts throughout the labor or deliver process. But, if you want a spine injection then a single injection effect will last for one and half hour to 3 hours. So there is a chance that the epidural effect will be over before you give birth.

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Side effects of epidural

The side effects of epidural include:

  • Low blood pressure,
  • Headache,
  • Sometimes nerve damage,
  • Lower back pain due to needle,
  • Urination problem as numbness can result in loss of feeling in bladder,
  • Sometimes bleeding from the area where needle was inserted.

Epidural effect on your baby

Epidural can cause low blood pressure of the mother, even though extra fluids (IV) are given to mother by arm but still the baby’s heart rate is monitored. Low blood pressure of the mother can result in low heart rate of the baby.

Should I take an epidural?

You should consult your doctor or midwife about an epidural if you want to have painless birth. Discuss with your doctor all the pros and cons of an epidural and also about your and your baby’s safety throughout the procedure. Taking an epidural, choosing a C-section or vaginal birth is all the choice of the mother until and unless there is some problem in vaginal birth. C-section usually involves an epidural to relief pain throughout the surgery.

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