Pros And Cons of Epidural During Labour And Delivery

Over the years, many methods have been devised to relieve mothers of the birthing pains they endure! There are many pharmacological methods that can be used for pain relief. All you need is to discuss the options with your doctor to see which one suits you the best. The most common option however, which is routinely available at all birth centers is the Epidural Block. Clearly then, you need to know all about Epidural. Here is more on the same…

 

Epidural Block

This is a regional analgesic which can be used during labour. In fact it is used for many lower body procedures. The same epidural can be used with stronger medications for a cesarean section and other lower body surgeries. An epidural is administered generally, once you are about 3 cms dilated. The anesthetist will check all your vital signs and then first administer a local anesthetic to numb the area.

The epidural is administered in between contractions and you will be asked to either sit or lie down on your side and curve your back outward. Medication is inserted into a small space outside the spinal cord in the lower back. This is called the epidural space. It can take about 10 to 20 minutes for the medication to have an effect and for you to start feeling relief from your contractions.

 

Pros:

  • An epidural can take away almost all the pain of the contractions but since it just numbs the nerves it does not affect the progress of labour.
  • You are conscious, awake and alert throughout so you can welcome your baby into the world.
  • You will also be able to feed immediately after the birth.
  • It may be possible for you to opt for a milder version which will also allow you to move around a little during labour. This is the Walking Epidural.
  • Epidurals are generally connected to a catheter and this can be switched off closer to the pushing stage, which will allow you to push the baby out naturally.

 

Cons:

  • An epidural may or may not give you relief. It can be very subjective.
  • Epidural tends to decrease your blood pressure which will affect the fetal heart rate. This means, you will need to be monitored constantly.
  • You may need a catheter to empty your bladder since you might lose sensation in the bladder region.
  • The medication can also cause tightness in your chest, which may give you a sensation of breathlessness.
  • At times the epidural needle may puncture into your spinal fluid which can result in a headache post delivery.
  • Due to blood pressure fluctuations there is a possibility of edema or swelling post delivery which can also affect the breast and cause swelling and fullness which can make it difficult for the baby to latch.
  • You may have opted for a walking epidural but it may not have the desired effect and hence you are confined to your bed.
  • Epidural can increase the chances of an assisted birth such as forceps or vacuum, as it reduces your sensations and you may not be able to feel the urge to push.
  • Since the anesthetist has to be with you constantly you lose your privacy and are unable to relax completely.

 

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