Epidural anesthesia is the most popular method of pain relief during labor. 50% of women giving birth use epidural anesthesia. It is the pain-relieving shot that some pregnant women get when they are giving birth. But it has other uses too. It is an injection that goes into your epidural space which is right outside the membrane that protects your spinal cord. Doctors use epidural injections to relieve pain during and after surgery, as well as managing labor pain. It requires a low dose of medicine and has fewer side effects.

How is an epidural useful?

Epidural may give you longer lasting pain relief. You stay more alert and mobile during the epidural. This is the most common analgesia in which doctor block the spinal nerves and prevent pain signals from traveling to your brain begins to work in 10 to 20 minutes. You would get a nerve block through a small flexible tube called a catheter that goes near your spine at the back and discharges the medicine, so you will not feel any pain.

How does an epidural work?

All epidural target the nerves that carry pain signals. So you are still able to feel foul and pressure. You will be able to walk as and with some help for their reasons doctors usually recommend the used an epidural nerve block when a woman chooses to get anesthesia during childbirth. Epidural medications fall into a class of drugs called local anesthetics such as bupivacaine, chloroprocaine or lidocaine. They are often delivered in combination with opioids or narcotics such as fentanyl etc. to decrease the dose of local anesthetic.

How is an epidural given to a pregnant woman?

Intravenous fluid is started before active labor begins and prior to the procedure of placing the epidural. Anesthetist will administer your epidural, you will be asked to arch your back and remain still which lying on left side or sitting up. An antiseptic solution is used to wipe the area of your mid back. A small area on your back will be injected with the local anesthetic to numb it. A needle is inserted into the numb area surrounding the spinal cord. After that a small tube or catheter is inserted through the needle into epidural space. The needle is then carefully removed leaving the catheter in place to provide medication either through periodic injection or continuous injection. The catheter is tapped to the back to prevent it from slipping.

There are two types of epidural:

  • Regular Epidural: A combination of narcotic and anesthesia is administered either by a pump or by periodic injections into epidural space.
  • Combines Spinal Epidural: an initial dose of narcotic, anesthetic or a combination of the two is injected beneath the outermost of the spinal cord and inward of the epidural space. This is the intrathecal area. The anesthetist will put the needle back into the epidural space thread the catheter through the needle, then withdraw the needle and leave the catheter in place. This allows more freedom to move and greater ability to change position with assistance with the catheter in place you can request an epidural at any time.

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