Labor and delivery

What is an epidural and how does it work?

What is an Epidural and How Does it Work?

An epidural is a type of pain management technique used during labor and delivery. It is a minimally invasive procedure that uses anesthetic drugs to provide mothers-to-be with relief from pain. An epidural offers a safe, effective way to reduce the pain of labor and can help women to remain as comfortable as possible throughout their delivery.

How Does an Epidural Work?

An epidural is administered through a small tube, called a catheter, which is inserted into the space between two vertebrae in the lower spine. The catheter is usually placed in the small of the back, but can be adjusted, if needed. The anesthetic is then injected through the catheter, which spreads a blanket of numbing medicine around the nerves that carry pain signals to the mother’s brain.

Benefits of an Epidural

Epidurals can provide several benefits to expectant mothers:

  • Pain Relief: The main benefit of an epidural is pain relief. It can be used to control pain during the pushing stage of labor, and can help mothers to maintain energy and focus on their delivery.
  • Relaxation: An epidural can help mothers to relax, which can lead to a smoother, more successful delivery.
  • Safety: An epidural is a safe and effective way to reduce the pain of labor and can help women to remain as comfortable as possible during delivery.

Risks of an Epidural

Although an epidural is a safe procedure, it does have some risks associated with it. These include:

  • Low Blood Pressure: There is a risk of the mother’s blood pressure dropping after receiving an epidural.
  • Headache: Some mothers experience a headache afterwards, due to a leakage of spinal fluid.
  • Infection: Infection can occur if the catheter or site of the epidural becomes infected.

It is important for expectant mothers to discuss the potential risks and benefits of an epidural with their healthcare provider before making a decision. The decision to receive an epidural is one that only the expectant mother can make and should not be rushed into.

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