An epidural is a process in which a medicine either an anesthetic or a steroid is injected into the epidural space, which surrounds your spinal nerves. An epidural technique is used to offer pain relief (analgesia) or a full loss of feeling (anesthesia) in a specific area of your body, such as your legs or abdomen.
The epidural area surrounds your spinal cord and is filled with fluid. Consider it a liquid sleeve that wraps around your spinal cord.
Your spinal cord serves as a highway that connects all of your body’s nerves to your brain. When you are hurt, for example, a nerve in that area of your body sends a pain signal to your brain and back via your spinal cord.
Perhaps no other aspect of the delivery experience is as contentious and misleading as epidurals. Truly, they alleviate pain, but they also raise worries about the mother’s and child’s safety. Couples are increasingly opting for the procedure during labor.
Today, a regional anesthetic is used in more than half of all childbirths to numb the body from the waist down, lessening the pain of contractions. Here are Things You Should Know About Epidurals:
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1. It’s less painful than it appears.
An epidural is about as painful as receiving an IV. That is to say, your wife will feel a sting or discomfort for a few seconds after the needle is inserted before it subsides; the genuine numbness takes around 20 minutes to take effect.
There are two needles in total: The first is a local anesthetic, which numbs the area where the epidural will be inserted. The catheter is then guided into the epidural space by a bigger needle. By this time, the area should be relatively numb, thus the discomfort should be minor.
2. Not a risky situation.
An epidural does not harm your baby, contrary to popular belief. “The simple answer is that no documented detrimental direct effects on the fetus/newborn have been established,” says James J. Cummings, M.D, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn. “However, there may be indirect impacts, as failure to advance in labor may raise the likelihood of instrumented delivery (forceps) or operative delivery (C-section).”
3. It may cause the labor to be slowed slightly.
According to studies, how far along a woman is in labor affects whether or not the epidural slows things down. If taken before 5 cm dilation, there is a greater probability of slower labor.
However, if your wife’s contraction discomfort prompts her to tense her muscles, labor will take much longer. Regardless, your wife’s numbness will make it difficult for her to recognize when to push during a contraction but don’t worry, this is something that doctors and nurses in birth rooms do all day. They’ll walk you and your partner through the dilation process.
4. To pee, she could need a catheter.
Although your wife will be numb from the waist down, she may not receive the signals she typically would if she needs to urinate during labor, resulting in an accident. As a result, the doctor may insert a catheter to assist her in keeping her bladder empty.
5. There are several different types.
Continuous infusion, in which the anesthesia is continually fed into the body via a catheter, and a walking epidural, in which painkillers are injected into the lower limbs, are two of the most popular types of epidurals.
Although this does not imply that you and your wife may go for a quick walk through the hospital hallways, it does imply that she may be able to use the restroom independently.
What are the benefits and Risks of an epidural?
1. It enables you to relax.
You may be able to get more rest if your labor pains are relieved. This is especially useful if you are expecting long labor. It’s also possible to have a more positive delivery experience if you can relax and avoid pain.
2. Pain Relief
The epidural is one of the most effective pain management options during labor and delivery, with few adverse effects for both mom and baby. It works immediately and can start reducing pain in as little as 10 to 20 minutes. During labor and delivery, most women who have had an epidural have little or no discomfort.
3. It can assist you in remaining alert.
An epidural can help you stay awake so you can participate fully in the childbirth process. It can also save you pain if you need to use forceps or a vacuum to get your baby out. An epidural allows you to be awake during the procedure and provides pain medication during your recovery if you need a C-section.
Read More: Postpartum Hemorrhage: What You Need To Know
1. It has the potential to cause low blood pressure.
The use of epidurals can result in a drop in blood pressure. Throughout your labor and delivery, your blood pressure is checked to ensure appropriate blood flow to your baby and throughout your body. You may require oxygen, water, and medicine if your blood pressure decreases.
2. Side effects
Shivering, fever and itching are some of the side effects that some women encounter. You may feel nauseous or disoriented when the epidural is removed, as well as back pain and soreness where the needle was inserted.
A severe headache will affect about 1% of women, according to studies. This is a rare adverse effect brought on by a spinal fluid leak. If the headache persists, a blood patch is used to ease the pain by injecting a little amount of your blood into the epidural region.
If the spinal cord is injured by the needle or catheter, or by bleeding or infection in the epidural area, irreversible nerve loss is likely. Anesthesiologists have rigorous training, and the danger of chronic injury is minimal.
3. You may have difficulty urinating.
If you have an epidural, you’re more likely to need a urinary catheter to empty your bladder. This is merely a short-term situation. Once the numbness has gone away, the urinary catheter can be withdrawn.
Although epidurals are generally safe, the decision to use one is a personal one.
Finally, you’ll have to assess the benefits and draw conclusions about what’s best for you and your family. It’s also a good idea to discuss the benefits and risks of epidurals, as well as other pain treatment choices, with your doctor.
Making a plan can assist you in feeling more prepared for birth. But keep in mind that even the best-laid plans might change at any time. That’s why having a backup plan is a smart idea, so you can be ready with an alternative birth plan that you’re still comfortable with.