Epidurals are a way of transferring an anesthetic to prevent pain signals from the spine to the brain. It typically includes injecting a small amount of anesthetic within the epidural space of the spine. The epidural space contains fluid and encloses the spinal cord. The function of the anesthetic is to numb the spinal nerves and therefore, block the pain signals.
Amidst the childbirth process, the medication is shot into the lumbar area, which is located on the lower part of the spine. If properly inserted, no more pain will be felt on the lower half of the body. With lower doses however, the movement of legs or even walking around will still be possible. Since a single injection doesn’t suffice through- out the entire labour, a catheter is commonly attached to a woman’s back and this fine plastic tube is fastened into the epidural space using a needle. The main function is to add more painkillers or anesthetic if necessary.
There are several ways to go about this, either it’s handled by the doctor, or the catheter is attached to a pump that provides painkillers in small amounts or, the pump may be controlled by the patient, lessening or adding it as needed. The dosage of the epidural is gradually increased to avoid injecting too much at once. The feeling of pain begins weakening 10 to 20 minutes after applied. Depending on the anesthetist, it sometimes takes time to place the injection in the right area, or they might not administer it at all.
HOW IS AN EPIDURAL PERFORMED?
Epidural may be applied only when the patient is awake.
1. Patients will be asked to sit up or lay on their side, being forward to curve their back.
2. Local anesthetic is injected into a small region of skin of your back to numb it before the actual epidural catheter is inserted.
3. The anesthetist will place a fine plastic tube into the epidural space in your back.
HOW POTENT ARE EPIDURALS?
Epidurals are proven to be efficient in reducing pain better than other forms of painkillers. Women who have applied epidurals experience minimal to no pain. According to statistics, 28 out of 100 women require additional painkillers during child birth if other alternatives of pain relief choices were used first.
HOW DOES THE EPIDURAL AFFECT THE BABY?
Any medication that a mom-to-be employs during labor will pass through their baby’s body via the umbilical cord. This consists of painkillers and anesthetics that’s delivered through epidurals. But, anesthetics lacks a strong effect on the baby compared to different painkillers that could be taken in consideration during the birthing process. Epidurals have no long-term drawbacks. Although, one difference is the use of epidurals may have a prolonged delivery time, this is due to some babies requiring a longer time to get into the right position when an epidural is used.
ADVANTAGES OF AN EPIDURAL
• For women undergoing labor, this method of pain relief has been found to be most effective.
• Top-ups can be provided by an experienced midwife, so no wait or delay is needed from an anaesthetist.
• Another positive attribute, moms-to-be will feel calm and thus, leave room for more control leading to a more positive birth experience.
• If an unplanned caesarean occurs, an epidural can be increased with a stronger anaesthetic although an epidural will most likely not heightened the need for a caesarean.
• Permits you to rest in the event that your labor is delayed.
• When different sorts of coping mechanism doesn’t suffice, epidurals can assist in helping you endure fatigue, irritability, fatigue and exhaustion. It allows you to stay relaxed, and concentrate on the process.
DISADVANTAGES OF EPIDURAL
• There’s a possibility it will influence your ability to pee and a urinary catheter may be needed
after the birth of the baby. It will be removed when the bladder is empty. But, if you’ve experi- enced a trying vaginal birth or caesarean you might need the catheter a little longer.
• Monitoring is required. Your baby’s heartbeat will be monitored constantly for 30 minutes, at least and after every top-up. Your blood pressure will also be taken every five minutes for 15 minutes to ensure the epidural gets to work. This is done be- cause the epidural can cause your blood pressure to drop.
• There’s a higher chance your baby might require assisted or instrumental delivery such as forceps or ventouse during the labor process.
• The pushing stage might be prolonged. Even if the cervix is fully dilated, you might not feel
the urge to push. With that giv- en, the midwife will encourage you to wait until feeling the urge
to push begins.
• There’s little chance of nerve damage, leaving with you a de- sensitized area on either your foot or leg, pin and needles, or a weakened leg. But this is an uncommon case, 1 in 1000
women stand a chance of developing temporary nerve damage, while for permanent damage, 1 in 24,000 women have a chance in this occurring.
Should you have further questions regarding epidural options for your birth delivery, please do speak to your doctor for advice.
By Parents Avenue Team