An epidural is the most popularly used method of pain relief. The average woman in labor will request for an epidural anesthesia more than any other pain relief. Epidural is mostly a combination of narcotic and anesthetic, aimed at blocking the pain and movement in a specific body region by causing numbness. The nerve impulses are blocked causing minimal sensation in the body especially in the lower part of the body.
Shortly after you are given an epidural, the uterus will go numb within a couple of minutes. More doses can also be given throughout labor to sustain the pain relief for the rest of labor. You may even have the option to control the dosage yourself. This is called the patient-controlled analgesia.
Depending on your preference, you may request for an epidural while in active labor or prior to labor. No time is too late to ask for an epidural except the baby’s head is already crowning. This is why it is advised that women who want an epidural ask for the catheter to be placed before labor, so that the medication is more easily given the moment labor begins.
An epidural is done by inserting a catheter by your side while in a sitting or lying position. Your lower back is then injected with the epidural medication by passing a catheter through the needle. After you deliver your baby, the catheter will be removed.
In cases of C-section delivery, the catheter is not always removed immediately, unlike in vaginal deliveries. It is often left in, to offer postoperative pain relief.
It is always best to consider your pain relief options and its benefits to help for faster decisions during the labor and birth of your baby . If you are considering an epidural, here are some of the benefits:
- An epidural provides continual highly effective relief of labor pain, without losing the ability to control movement in body parts. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that only small dosages are deposited to the nerves so there are hardly cases of overdose. This is really a plus because as labor progresses, you might need more doses to shield the intensity of the pain.
- Not only is the anesthesiologist able to control the effects by adjusting the dosage of the medication, you can even control the amount, and strength of the medication by pulling the catheter.
- Your baby is completely safe as only a very small dosage reaches it.
- It keeps you relaxed as your cervix dilates, speeds up delivery and progresses labor. Women are often anxious due to labor pain thus producing stress hormones known as epinephrine and norepinephrine. These stress hormones tend to slow down contraction and delivery.
- Because it has a localized effect, it allows you to be awake during labor and delivery without any effect on your mental state. Even for caesarean births, it allows you stay awake and take active part in your child’s birth.
- You will be comfortable even in a very prolonged labor, thus giving you a great and pain less birth experience as it even gives effective pain relief during recovery.