Epidural Anesthesia as Pain Relief in Labor
This is administered through an extremely thin tube between the spinal cord and outer membranes. When used for labor it dulls feeling from your stomach to your feet.
An epidural is usually not given until you are 4 cm or more dilated and having strong, regular contractions.
Your blood pressure is checked every 1-5 minutes, during and immediately after the epidural is placed. Extra fluids can be given through IV to keep blood pressure normal.
When an epidural is administered, you either lay on your side or sit at the edge of the bed and curl your back towards the anesthesiologist. The epidural is then placed very low in the middle of your back. The anesthesiologist will ask you to hold still and keep your back arched during this procedure.
If you are having a contraction the anesthesiologist can pause and let you breathe through it.
Having an epidural will still allow you to feel contractions enabling you push your baby out after your cervix is completely dilated. At times the epidural is turned down, or off, so that you can push well at the end of your labor.
After your baby arrives, the epidural medication will be stopped. The anesthesiologist will come by a short time later and remove the epidural catheter from your back. The effects of the epidural wear off gradually over a 1-2 hour period.