Getting an epidural does not mean all things bright and beautiful!

They say labour pain can be compared to the pain one would experience when all the bones in the body break simultaneously. Well, child birth is painful, period! While there are no ifs and buts to this, modern medication does allow women to opt for painless birthing as well. One of the most popular pain relief measures administered during labour is the Epidural. 

However, while many of us are aware of this, we are unsure about whether or not to opt for an epidural. Here’s a little guide that will help you decide whether or not to take the spine prick.

What is an epidural?

An epidural is a pain relief method given during labour, in order to ease the pain. The drug is injected into the spinal column, using a catheter, which then numbs your abdomen. So, while your contractions will still be strong and steady, you will not feel a thing. 

Who can take an epidural?

Any woman in labour can take an epidural. However, the anesthetist has to ensure that she is not allergic to any form of drug or have a family history that can be risky. The epidural can be given at any stage during labour. However, some doctors do not recommend giving the pain killer if the mother is over 4 cm dilated. Also, in case the labour is induced, an epidural can be given right at the beginning itself.

However, like for anything, this too comes with its bag of pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know before you sign up for an epidural.

Why is it good?

1. Firstly, it is one of the most effective forms of pain relief during labour. While your contractions might get stronger, the epidural helps you remain blissfully unaware of all the pain.

2. The procedure is fairly quick. The whole process takes about 20 minutes to set up and the effect of the drug starts off in about 10-15 minutes.

3. Unlike other pain medications like pethidine (gas or air), your mind remains clear, even as your labour progresses. 

4. In case you need a c-section, it can be topped with a stronger local anesthetic.

Why is it not recommended?

1. It's not always that epidurals work 100%. And this is why your anesthetist adjusts the levels in case it does not work even after 30 minutes.

2. Different women respond differently to an epidural. While some may not have any side effect, a few others may develop itching, fever, or a headache.

3. You will need a catheter to empty your bladder, as you will not be able to walk around after an epi.

4. An epidural might slow down labour and you might require additional medication to speed up the labour.

5. Some research also shows problems of the back post delivery, among mothers who opted for an epidural during labour.

These might be the pros and cons listed all over the net, but ensure you talk to your doctor before you make any decisions.  

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