Skip to main content

Should I get an Epidural?

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.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Myths and Facts About the Fourth Trimester

Your fourth trimester — the time gap that spans from your baby’s birth to the first 12 weeks after delivery — is a time for healing and bonding. But there are a lot of misconceptions about this time. Read on and debunk seven common myths.
My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal — Now What?

My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal — Now What?

Pap smears are a type of cervical cancer screening that looks for any precancerous changes in your cells. If you receive an abnormal result, you may wonder what that means and what you should do next. Read on to find out.
Ask These Questions at Your First Prenatal Appointment

Ask These Questions at Your First Prenatal Appointment

Getting ready for your first prenatal appointment? Many moms-to-be are excited for this appointment as it officially kicks off your pregnancy journey. Continue reading as we share eight questions to consider asking at your first prenatal appointment. 

Tips for Thriving Through Your Third Trimester

As you enter your third trimester of pregnancy, the anticipation of meeting your little one may be accompanied by a mix of excitement and physical challenges. Continue reading to learn our top tips for thriving through your third trimester.

6 Medical Causes of Spotting Between Periods

Spotting between periods is common and can happen to most women once in a blue moon. However, should irregular bleeding continue for more than 2 to 3 cycles, we recommend scheduling an exam. Read on to learn more.