Many women will say that the pain they experience during labor is the worst pain they have ever felt. This is why we feel fortunate to be able to offer epidurals, especially when first babies can take 12-20 hours of labor until birth. Epidurals are known for their ability to reduce pain and provide many benefits to a laboring mother. Our obstetrics team is happy to walk you through all of your pain management options and answer your questions as you consider your birth plan.
Making a birth plan is an exercise that outlines your preferences for childbirth and recovery, but it also helps communicate those desires with our team at OBGYN Westside, PLLC, on the Upper West Side of New York City. Your birth plan can include everything from how you want to labor to what type of pain management you want.
How do Epidurals Work?
Epidural anesthesia 一 more often simply referred to as an epidural 一 works by injecting a local anesthetic into the epidural space in your spine. Approximately 60-70% of women who give birth choose to have an epidural.
Before your epidural, an anesthesiologist will come and discuss the epidural placement with you and answer any questions you may have. Once you have received some intravenous (IV) fluids, the anesthesiologist will clean and numb your lower back with a local anesthetic. Then, a catheter (tube) is placed into your epidural space. Medication continues to flow through the catheter to provide continuous pain relief.
An epidural is generally considered a low risk treatment. However, they can have side effects such as a drop in blood pressure or headache. Epidurals may also restrict your ability to ambulate during labor and you may need a catheter placed in your bladder since you may not be able to tell when your bladder is full. Sometimes, epidurals may not eliminate all pain. Some women still feel pressure and discomfort, especially as you move into the final stages of labor.
Benefits of Epidurals:
Provide effective pain relief
Epidurals provide effective (and fast!) pain relief during labor. They block sensation in the lower part of your body and offer significant comfort. By minimizing pain, epidurals can help you relax, conserve energy, and remain more composed during the birthing process.
Help you rest
By numbing the lower half of your body, epidurals contribute to increased relaxation. This relaxation is particularly beneficial for mothers experiencing prolonged labor. In fact, most mothers even find that they can nap once they have their epidural.
Even if you don’t nap, you may find it easier to rest in between contractions. This allows you to save your energy for the pushing stage of your labor.
Help reduce your stress and anxiety levels
Pain management through epidurals can significantly reduce stress 一 specifically, the psychological stress caused by pain 一 and anxiety levels associated with labor. When epidurals help reduce the emotional trauma of intense pain during labor, it may lead to a more positive postpartum recovery experience.
Make medical interventions easier on you
Epidurals make it easier for your OBGYN Westside provider to perform certain medical procedures. These procedures, such as vacuum delivery or episiotomy, are of course only performed if absolutely necessary. An epidural can help reduce any additional discomfort. Also, in cases where a C-section becomes necessary, having an epidural in place can facilitate a smoother transition.
Is an epidural right for you?
Choosing whether or not to have an epidural can also be a deeply personal decision and influenced by individual preferences. We are prepared to support you during your labor regardless of what you decide and are happy to talk you through any concerns or questions you may have. If you’d like to explore your options and discuss them with our team, give us a call or book your appointment online today.