Going for Epidural Anesthesia During Birth

Epidural is a type of anaesthesia that helps to relieve pain during labor. It is usually injected at the backbone or the lower spine where it blocks pain during contractions. An epidural makes the body numb from the waist down, enabling the expectant mother to remain alert during labor. The mother is then able to push the baby comfortably when the time comes.

The Procedure Carried Out During Epidural

  • Step 1 – Before the labor starts, you will be given intravenous fluids, prior to the epidural procedure. 
  • Step 2 – You will be requested to arch your back and lie still on your left side or even sit up. This assists to increase the effectiveness of the epidural and prevent problems.
  • Step 3 – Your waistline or mid back area will then be wiped with an antiseptic content to clear any chances of an infection.
  • Step 4 –  An anesthetic will be injected on your back to make it numb.
  • Step 5 – A needle followed by a catheter or will be inserted in the the numb area around the spinal cord through to the epidural space. Some doctors may thread up a small tube.
  • Step 6 – The needle will be removed carefully and the catheter will be left in place to offer medication by either a continuous infusion or periodically.
  • Step 7 – To prevent the catheter from falling, it will be taped onto your back.

The Pros and Cons of an Epidural

Let’s look at the advantage and disadvantages of having an epidural.

Pros of epidural:

  • If you are having a cesarean, you can go through the moment with your partner as you will be awake throughout the procedure.
  • You will be able to push and move around when need be
  • Epidural is generally regarded as safe
  • It works very effectively
  • Allows you to take rest in case labor is prolonged

Cons of epidural

  • You are likely to lose feeling when passing urine and so may need a catheter
  • It is not recommended for everyone due to medical reasons
  • The second phase of labor might be slow
  • You may need assistance to give birth in case you are not able to push
  • During labour your baby will require close monitoring

The Risks That Comes Along With Epidural

  • Sometimes lying on one position may slow down labor, and so, you might have to alternate sides from to time to monitor the baby’s heart rate
  • There is a possibility of a severe headache due to leakage of spinal fluid. A procedure known as blood patch, whereby injection of your blood to the epidural space is done, may be performed to minimize the headache.
  • Side effects such as shivering, soreness, difficulties when urinating, and backache might be experienced.
  • There are chances of using assisted delivery (vacuum or forceps) to aid in delivering the baby

Necessary Questions to Ask the Doctor

  1. Feel free to inquire on the available pain relief options that the doctor has
  2. What type of pain relief will most suit you?
  3. Is it okay to have an epidural at your preferred health centre?



#Please note that development differs from one child to another.

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: parents, americanpregnancy, pregnancybirthbaby

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