Using epidurals: How to use them effectively
You’re not alone if you’re considering an epidural to assist manage the agony of labor. With good reason, two-thirds of women giving birth in hospitals choose an epidural during labor and delivery. Epidurals are regarded as one of the safest methods of pain control accessible because they erase the agony of contractions while keeping you awake and alert during childbirth.
What exactly is an epidural?
A local anesthetic is injected into the area around the spinal nerves in your lower back during an epidural.
This anesthetic is usually quite successful at blocking the pain of labor contractions and birthing. You move around and push your baby out with more ease if you have an epidural.
Why use an epidural?
The traditional approach to delivery has been criticized for various reasons, giving rise to a more updated approach that offers a safer and less strenuous delivery process.
Based on existing evidence, waiting until the mother feels the urge to push is a better method. Pushing can be postponed for up to 2 hours for nulliparous women and up to 1 hour for multiparous women with epidural anesthesia.
There are fewer fetal heart rate (FHR) decelerations and less of a deleterious influence on fetal acid-base status and oxygenation when pushing is postponed until the woman’s urge to push.
Here’s a rundown of the several epidural options you’ll most likely be offered:
- Spinal block – A single dose of pain alleviation is delivered into the fluid around the spinal cord with a spinal block. It takes effect rapidly and lasts for an hour or two. It is commonly used during C-section deliveries.
- Combined spinal-epidural – A combined spinal-epidural (or CSE) is a combination of the two, and it acts to block pain and provide ongoing relief as needed.
- Epidural block – The most common type of epidural provided during labor is an epidural block, which is a combination of analgesics and anesthetics. It’s injected into the lower back with a small tube. You’ll feel better, but you’ll still be aware and ready to push when it’s time.
What is the procedure for effective epidural anesthesia?
A drip for fluids will normally be inserted into your arm prior to the epidural. Sitting up and bending forward over a pillow, or curling up into a ball on your side makes putting the needle in the right spot much easier. You will be instructed to remain very still.
A cool antiseptic solution will be applied to your lower back. Your lower back skin will be injected with a tiny dose of local anesthetic. In the region around your spinal nerves, a needle will be placed between the bones of your spine. When your contraction stops, your anesthetist will place the epidural needle, so be sure to alert them during the occurrence of a contraction.
The needle will be removed once a little soft plastic tube is introduced. The anesthetic that will numb your pain is delivered through that tube. The epidural normally relieves pain in 5 to 30 minutes and is normally only used in the initial stage of labor, but it can be used at any time.
While epidurals have a list of medical benefits, there are certain risks involved. So, be sure to check with your obstetrician if an epidural is available at your preferred hospital or birth center, what their epidural processes are, and what sort of pain management would be best for you!