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All you need to know about Epidural

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

During labor, the medication is injected into your lumbar area(lower part of the spine). This is to relieve you from pain in the lower part of the body. The dosage is low so that you are still able to move your legs or even walk around with a bit of help. This medication can be given for both vaginal and C-section surgery as per the needs.

What is an epidural space?

The epidural space is the area around your spinal cord between the dura mater (a membrane) and the vertebral wall, containing fat and small blood vessels. The epidural space runs the length of the spine and consists of fat, nerve roots, arteries, and veins.

What is an epidural catheter?

A catheter is a small hollow tube made using medical-grade materials used for medical purposes.

An epidural catheter is one that is inserted in the epidural space with the help of a needle so that medication such as local anesthetics or pain relievers can be injected through it.

When will the epidural be placed?

You can begin an epidural at any time during your labor. Your doctor will be able to let you know about the exact time intervals.

What is the epidural procedure?

  1. Before an epidural, you will usually have an IV for fluids and other medications.

  2. You will be asked to turn to your left and arch your back. You would have to hold this position until the procedure is completed.

  3. First, an antiseptic solution will be used to clean the area of your mid-back. A small area on your back will be injected to numb it.

  4. A small needle is inserted into the numbed area surrounding the spinal cord.

  5. A small tube or catheter is threaded through the needle into the epidural space. The needle is then carefully removed, leaving the catheter in place to provide medication either through periodic injections or by continuous infusion. The catheter is taped to the back to prevent it from slipping out.

What does an epidural do?

An epidural provides anesthesia that creates a band of numbness from below your navel to the upper part of the legs. It allows you to be awake and alert throughout your labor, as well as feel the pressure.

How does epidural aid in labor?

  1. With an epidural, you might be able to feel contractions, it may not hurt you and you will be able to push effectively.

  2. It helps in conserving your energy while you dilate by reducing the pain.

  3. The medication only affects a specific area, and you will be alert and awake during labor and birth.

What are the risks involved?

  1. Epidurals may cause low blood pressure. Your blood pressure has to be routinely monitored to ensure adequate blood flow to your baby.

  2. For a few hours after birth, the lower half of your body may feel numb and you may require assistance to walk.

  3. There are no clear study results on the effect of epidural on the baby. It is ambiguous.

  4. On rare occasions, some women may cause headaches, and soreness in the back where the needle was inserted.

  5. It cannot be given to all women, for medical reasons.

You need to know what medications are being given to you. Your consent is important.

Be informed of what procedures are followed. If you are not in a position to keep track of things then one of your family members can make a note of the medications.

Take care!


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