Getting an epidural is a subject that nearly every soon-to-be parent considers. The idea of being present for the birth of your first child is a powerful and exciting one.
The birth process can be challenging, and you want to try and alleviate pain in any way you can, but do you really know what having an epidural entails? Read along to learn more about it.
What is the meaning of epidural?
Epidural is a type of anesthesia used for pain relief during childbirth. It's given through a catheter placed in the lower back, and the medication is injected into the epidural space around the spinal cord. This blocks pain pathways from the uterus, pelvic area, and lower body.
It's a great option if you're having a c-section, and it can also be used to treat back pain.
What is Epidural Injection?
An epidural injection is a procedure used to relieve pain in the lower back and legs. It involves injecting a steroid medication into the spine's epidural space at the base of the spinal cord. The steroid medication blocks nerve impulses in the lower body, which reduces inflammation and swelling.
The epidural space is located between two layers of tissue or membranes that cover your spinal cord: an outer membrane called the dura and an inner membrane called the arachnoid. The area where these two membranes meet is called "epidural space."
An epidural injection is usually done by a physician or nurse practitioner with special training in anesthesia and pain management techniques.
This person will inject medicine into your back through an epidural needle attached to a syringe. You may need several injections during one visit depending on how much pain you're having and how many days in advance you've scheduled your appointment for treatment.
What are the side effects of getting an epidural?
The most common side effect is a headache. This occurs because the medication used in an epidural can cause numbness, tingling, and weakness in your legs or arms. This can last for up to 24 hours after you receive your epidural. Other potential side effects include:
- Urinary retention (inability to urinate)
- Itching or tingling in hands and feet
Epidural | Image source: iStock
Is getting an epidural painful?
When you get an epidural, you'll feel a small pinch where the needle goes into your lower back. It doesn't hurt much when this happens—you might feel slight pressure or slightly stinging.
The needles are very thin and are inserted through layers of tissue, so they don't cause any damage to your skin or muscles.
The only downside is that sometimes the epidural needle can miss its target, which means it doesn't deliver the medication where it is supposed to go. If this happens, you might need another injection into another spot on your spine or another area entirely.
This isn't uncommon; about 3 percent of women who get an epidural will have to have more than one injection before it takes effect.
How long does an epidural last during labor?
It's important to remember that an epidural is a medical procedure, and as such, it requires medical attention. The duration of the epidural depends on how much medication you get during the procedure, so there's no way to know how long it will last until it's given.
An epidural usually wears off after about 12 hours, but some people have reported that it can last for 24 hours or more. It's also possible for your doctor to suggest another dose of medication if you need more pain relief than the first dose provided.
If you're concerned about how long an epidural will last during labor, talk with your doctor about what options are available and whether or not they'd be helpful for you.
How long after getting an epidural does baby come
The average time between getting the epidural and giving birth varies from person to person. Still, your body can take anywhere from one hour to six hours to fully absorb the medication.
So if you're nervous about getting it because you're worried it might delay childbirth, just know there's no need to worry. Most women don't have to wait hours longer than expected before their baby arrives.
What does an epidural do to the baby?
Doctors recommend an epidural during childbirth because it gives you more control over your contractions. This includes the pain associated with them. It numbs the nerves in your lower back, reducing the pain you feel during contractions.
This makes them much easier to manage and allows you to focus on other things—like getting ready for your new baby!
Some women worry that having an epidural will affect their baby's health or well-being. But research has shown that babies born to mothers with epidurals have no difference in birth weight compared to those born naturally.
Pregnant beautiful girl holds apple, takes good care of herself by eating healthy foods.
How to avoid epidural during labour
When it comes time to give birth, many women worry about the kind of pain they'll be in. That and whether they'll need an epidural.
But did you know that there are other options? Breathing exercises, walking around, changing positions, and even massage can help remove labor pain.
We've put together a few tips on how to avoid epidurals during labor.
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat healthy foods
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Understand your options
- Develop a plan with your providers
- Make sure everyone on your team is on the same page
- Have a variety of positions to try
- Use a birthing ball for pain relief
What Are the Disadvantages of Getting an Epidural?
The main disadvantage of an epidural is that it can slow down labor. This is because epidurals block the pain signals from reaching the brain. So, fewer hormones are released to start contractions.
Another downside is that you may have difficulty moving around during labor. Your legs may feel heavy, and you may have difficulty walking or getting in and out of bed. You might even need help getting up to use the bathroom.
Finally, it can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and dizziness after birth.
Can you feel the baby coming out with an epidural?
With an epidural, you’ll be able to feel the contractions and your baby coming out of your body, but there are some things you should know about how it works.
You’ll still be able to feel everything because it will only numb your body's lower half. These include your hips, thighs, and lower abdomen. This means that you’ll feel pressure and pain in these areas and any movements from your baby or doctor.
This can make it difficult to tell whether or not you're dilating. So if you're worried about this happening to you during labor, talk with your doctor. Do it before it happens so they can help guide you through what's happening.
How long after epidural can you walk?
If you've just had an epidural, you may wonder how long it will take to walk again. The good news is that you can walk right after receiving an epidural if you feel up to it.
When figuring out how long after the procedure you should wait before walking again, it's essential to consider all factors involved. These are your health condition, your level of pain relief, and the type of medication used in the procedure.
If you are in good health and have low pain tolerance, your doctor may allow you to walk immediately after getting it. On the other hand, if your doctor gave you a high dose of pain medication or if there were complications during the procedure, it may take longer for you to feel comfortable walking around after having it.
If you have more questions or concerns about getting an epidural when giving birth, do not hesitate to bring it up at your next doctor's appointment.
Image source: iStock
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore
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