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Scared of an Epidural? Information to Ease Your Mind

An injection

One of the biggest fears pregnant women have is labor and delivery - will it hurt? How long will it take? Is an epidural too risky?

You may have heard rumors about epidurals making you reluctant to get one, including that epidurals cause migraines for life or that they put stress on the baby. To ease your mind and shed light on how an epidural works, here is information about the pain-relieving procedure you should know.

Epidurals Are Popular

Epidurals are used by half of women in the delivery to help ease the discomfort of childbirth. Epidurals are requested more than any other kind of pain medication safe for delivery use, including Demerol and Morphine.

While you can choose from many types of pain medication to take the majority of the discomfort of childbirth away, keep in mind that most medications lose their effectiveness if you are in active labor. Many medications can also have side effects for the baby. Epidurals are popular because they block the nerves in the lower part of the body, making your ability to feel pain less severe.

Epidurals Cause Numbness

While epidurals are not designed to completely numb your body, they can and often do make you barely able to feel contractions. In fact, you have to have a catheter put in for urinary output when you have an epidural because you lose both the sensation of having to go to the bathroom and the ability to control your legs to walk to the restroom.

If you wish to have more control over the changes in your body while you deliver your baby, an epidural may not be the best option for you. However, you can still get an epidural and limit its effectiveness for managing pain because you are able to self-administer medication from your epidural line whenever you feel discomfort. If you begin to feel too numb down there, you simply stop clicking the button for more medication.

Epidurals Are Baby Safe

As mentioned above, many pain medications that are safe for labor and delivery pain can have some side effects on the baby. Side effects include:

  • Breastfeeding issues

  • Respiratory issues

  • Temperature regulation issues

None of these side effects are permanent and most of them do not adversely affect your baby.

Epidurals, on the other hand, have not been shown to have major effects on a baby, according to APGAR scores. Studies show that babies born to mothers who did not get epidurals show similar APGAR scores to babies born to mothers who did receive an epidural.

Epidurals Have Side Effects

Like any pain medication (or any medication in general), epidurals do come with possible side effects. Common side effects include low blood pressure and fever. You may feel nausea and even vomit during delivery if you get an epidural, or you might become dizzy and weak.

If an epidural is injected too deeply into the spine, it can cause the spinal fluid within the injection area to leak. This is what causes the headaches you have heard about associated with epidurals. The headaches typically don't last permanently, in most cases not more than several days. A too-deep epidural injection occurs very rarely.

Epidurals sound frightening and do come with some risks, but may be a wiser alternative to other pain medications during delivery. The best way to find out if an epidural is right for you is to talk to your OBGYN and an anesthesiologist.

Epidurals are widely common and used daily in labor and delivery rooms. If you are worried about handling the impending discomfort of childbirth, an epidural can bring you relief and comfort. Call our team of caring experts today at Aloma Park for all your pregnancy and delivery concerns.