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  • Writer's pictureKitty

Epidural 101

An Epidural is a popular and very effective form of pain relief.Contrary to popular belief an epidural can actually be a beautiful fit for many hypnobirthing families.

How does it work?

The epidural works by blocking pain receptors to you brain so you no longer feel the sensation of pain with your surges.

When should I get one?

There is no magic number or time for when it is best to get one although it will certainly work in your favor to wait until you are well into the active birthing phase. This means that you re having regular powerful surges which are making changes to your cervix.

In order to make the best and most informed decision for you here are few things to keep in mind.

  1. Getting the epidural means that you wont be able to mobilize out of the bed once it has kicked in. You will also be commenced on Continuous fetal monitoring to observe baby's heart rate more closely .This can be annoying and restrictive but it all has been linked with a greater incidence of surgical birth without improving the outcomes for babies.

2.The epidural also stops you feeling the sensation to empty your bladder and so a catheter will be inserted intermittently to keep your bladder empty until baby arrives.

3. Getting the epidural may limit the positions you can use during the pushing phase. Something worth considering if you were hoping to push on all fours or in a squatting position.

4. For some women the epidural can slow down the birthing process often due to the birthing parents positioning where the baby's head is less applied to the cervix. Try changing your position every 20 minutes or so,try out the throne position and use the peanut ball to aid Fetal descent.

5.With epidurals often comes intervention as the pushing phase of birth comes. Many birthing people struggle as the epidural also dulls the sensations down below this may lead to increased use of instrumental modes of delivery which may or may not require an episiotomy. By requesting for a stage of passive descent to allow baby to come down by themselves before beginning the pushing phase this encourages a lesser likelihood of either a forceps or vacuum delivery being necessary.

What does getting an epidural placed entail?

Getting the epidural placed is a process in itself it usually take around 30 minutes from start to finish. This means that it will be an hour give or take before you are comfortable.

Your midwife or nurse will assist you into a seated upright position with your bottom just at the edge of the bed you will be talked through the risks of the procedure and asked to sign a consent form.

You will be asked to sit as still as possible throughout the procedure.This is the hardest part particularly if you are experiencing very strong surges.Focus on staying completely still and rounding your back toward the anesthetist as much as you can.

Once in place you will be asked to lie flat on the bed while the epidural medication kicks in. Around 20 minutes or so.You will notice your feet and legs starting to become numb.

If after 20 minutes you are still feeling discomfort let your midwife or care provider know and they might suggest a position change or medication top up.

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