Epidural Delivery: should you go for it?

epidural delivery

Epidural Delivery: should you go for it?

Before you go into labour, one of the things that could be worrying you the most is the labour pain. You will have to endure the pain sure, but there are ways to have some relief. One of the most commonly prevalent methods to manage labour pain these days is to take an epidural.

What is Epidural Delivery?

An epidural is a local anaesthetic which is used to completely erase pain even while keeping you awake. This has a huge advantage over general anaesthesia of allowing you to avoid the complications and adverse side effects of general anaesthesia, such as the feeling of nausea and dizziness. It decreases sensation without making you totally lose feeling. When you use epidural during delivery, it is known as Epidural Delivery.

How is an epidural administered?

Initially a numbing medicine is injected into the lower back region. A catheter is then inserted into the lower back guided by a needle. The medication is then administered via the catheter then. The medication is usually a combination of an anaesthetic and a narcotic. You will usually feel the numbing effect within 10-20 minutes.

Nowadays you can choose to begin an epidural at any time during the labour process. If you are decided on taking an epidural during the delivery you can always ask the doctors to place the catheter in place at your convenience and begin medication only when you want to. Unless the baby’s head is crowning, you can take an epidural at any time.

The baby’s heart rate is monitored continuously and your blood pressure measured every 5 minutes. An epidural is effective pain-relief and the dosage can be adjusted and its effects are localised.

What are the benefits of epidural anesthesia?

  • It gives you relief and allows you to take rest in case your labor is long.
  • It almost completely reduces discomfort and pain of childbirth because of which women have a very positive birth experience.
  • Under normal circumstances, an epidural allows you to stay alert and remain very involved in the entire birthing process.
  • If you deliver by c-section, epidural anesthesia can enable you to stay awake while providing effective pain relief during and after delivery.
  • When other types of coping mechanisms are of little use, an epidural can enable you to deal with tiredness, irritability, and exhaustion. An epidural, by providing pain relief, will allow you to rest, regroup, get focused and give you the strength you need for an active birth experience.
  • The use of epidural anesthesia during delivery is continuously being revised, and a lot of its success also depends upon the skill with which it is administered.

What are the risks/disadvantages of epidural anesthesia?

  • Epidurals could result in sudden drop of your blood pressure levels. For this reason the blood pressure is constantly monitored to ensure an adequate blood flow to your baby. In the case where there is a sudden decrease in blood pressure, your doctor may need to treat you with IV fluids, oxygen and some medication.
  • You could experience severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid. This is a rare side effect and less than 1% of women experience it.
  • After the epidural is administered, you will need to change sides while lying down and will have continual monitoring of the fetal heart rate. Lying in one position could cause the labour to slow down.
  • In addition you may experience these other side effects too: shivering, back pain, soreness at the place where where the needle is inserted, nausea, or even difficulty urinating.
  • Some women also find that epidural makes pushing more difficult during the birthing process. This is because of the lack of sensation that is brought on by the epidural.
  • For a few hours even after the birth, the bottom half of your body could feel numb and without sensation. Because of this numbness you may be required to walk with assistance.
  • In rare cases, permanent nerve damage could result in the region where the catheter was inserted.
  • Some studies even suggest that a baby born after an epidural anaesthetic might experience respiratory issues as well.

Will an epidural affect my baby?

Research on the effects of epidurals on newborns is inconclusive, and many factors can affect the health of a newborn. How much of an impact an epidural injection has on a baby is difficult to determine and can vary based on dosage, the length of labor, and other factors like how it has been administered. However, it is better to have an epidural than deliver the baby after a prolonged labour without relief from an epidural.

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