What is epidural anesthesia?
Epidural anesthesia is an effective pain relief approach to control labour pain during normal delivery.
Epidural blocks the nerve impulses from the lower spinal segments resulting in decreased sensation in the lower half of the body.
If it is given correctly, epidural could reduce the labour pain up to 90% to 100%.
Area of numb after the epidural
How is an epidural given?
A doctor who specializes in anesthesia will administer your epidural.
You will be asked to arch your back and remain still while lying on your left side or sitting up. This position is vital for preventing problems and increasing the epidural effectiveness.
After the cleaning process with antiseptic, a needle will be inserted into the area that surrounds the spinal cord in the lower back. A plastic small tube is inserted through the needle into the epidural space. The needle is carefully removed leaving the plastic tube in place so medication can be given through periodic injections or by continuous infusion.
The plastic tube will be taped to your back to prevent it from slipping out.
A needle is used to guide the plastic tube into epidural space
Needle is removed and the plastic tube will remain in the epidural space for medication infusion
The plastic tube is plastered to the skin until the labour process is completed.
What are the benefits of epidural anesthesia?
1) Effective in labour pain control
2) Allows you to rest if your labor is prolonged
3) Relieving the discomfort of childbirth can help some woman have a more positive birth experience
4) Most of the time an epidural will allow you to remain alert and be an active participant in your birth
5) If you deliver by cesarean, an epidural anesthesia will allow you to stay awake and also provide effective pain relief during recovery.
What are the Disadvantages of epidural anesthesia?
1) Epidurals may cause your blood pressure to suddenly drop. As a result, you may feel dizzy and vomit.
2) You may experience a severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid. Luckily, it is not a common problem to happen (less than 1%)
3) You may experience the following side effects: shivering, ringing of the ears, backache, soreness where the needle is inserted, nausea, or difficulty urinating
4) You may find that your epidural makes pushing more difficult when the baby is about to deliver. As a result, sometimes forceps or vacuum extraction may become necessary
5) For a few hours after birth the lower half of your body may feel numb which will require you to walk with assistance