More than half of women having babies will be given epidurals to block pain during labor. Despite the general acceptance and proven safety of today’s epidurals, however, many women still agonize over whether to accept one. For most expectant moms, the turmoil is due to two issues: They might feel as though they’re being “weak” if they opt for anesthesia when they give birth, and secondly (and more importantly), they fear for their own safety and for the safety of their babies.
Everyone experiences pain differently; the intensity of the pain has nothing to do with who is tougher. Here are things you should know about epidurals-
- Effect on baby and mother: Neither the mother nor the baby is affected by epidurals. The pain of labour can be debilitating and there is nothing wrong to seek relief from it.
- Level of pain: Epidurals are painless and you find giving birth a lot easier with its aid. The size of the epidural needle can be scary to some, and when the medication enters your body, you may feel a tiny sting.
- The procedure: You will either be instructed to lie on your side or sit up during the procedure. A cleaning solution will be applied on your back, followed by a numbing injection. Then the epidural needle will be passed through the numb area. The epidural catheter comes next through the epidural space. The medication is passed through this catheter.
- Sudden movement or contraction: Labour contractions vary among women—some may get them every ten minutes and others, every two minutes. When the contractions are too frequent, epidurals are unlikely. However, if you are being given an epidural, and a contraction occurs, it is alright. You or your child won’t be harmed, you will only slow your anaesthesiologist down a bit.
- All about placement: A commonly perceived notion is that the inside of the spinal cord or the insides of the nerve is where the epidural is placed. This is completely wrong, since the epidural actually goes into the space through which the nerves pass. The nerves actually enter this space from the sides and the needle is placed at the centre.
- After an epidural: Your legs, after the epidural is administered, will feel weak and tingly, so walking in the hospital corridors is not the greatest idea. You will be advised to stay put on your bed for the entire duration of your labour. This also makes it easier for your obstetrician to monitor your baby’s heartbeat.