Epideral Shots

An Epidural Shot

Epidural anesthesia (commonly referred to as “an epidural”) is one of the most popular forms of labor pain relief because it allows a woman to remain lucid as she gives birth and usually has minimal effects on the baby. It is a regional anesthesia which blocks nerve impulses below the waist, thereby reducing pain. A woman who opts for an epidural will be started on intravenous fluids prior to receiving the medication. She will then be asked to either lie on her left side or sit up, arching her back.

An anesthesiologist or other healthcare professional specifically trained in anesthesia will then swab the woman’s back around the waistline with an antiseptic in order to avoid possible infection. Next, an anesthetic shot will be administered to numb the injection site.

Finally, a large needle will be inserted between the two vertebrae just above her waistline. A thin, flexible tube will be threaded into the site, and the needle removed. The tube will be taped in place, and the medication will be administered through it for the duration of the birth.

Risks of an Epidural

Once a woman opts for an epidural, she will generally have to remain lying down, and her baby will have to be continually monitored for signs of distress. This immobile position sometimes slows or stops labor altogether, requiring medical augmentation of the process, and/or a forceps or vacuum delivery.

Additionally, a woman receiving an epidural may experience backache, nausea, ringing in the ears, difficulty passing urine and discomfort where the tube has been inserted. In less than two percent of all women given epidurals, decreased blood pressure and severe headache due to spinal fluid leakage may occur, requiring minor medical intervention. In rare cases, a woman may incur permanent nerve damage around the site where the epidural was administered.

Alternatives to Epidurals

Narcotics, such as Morphine, Stadol, and Demerol, can be given as an alternative form of labor pain management. These are favored as a “milder” form of medicinal pain relief, numbing some of the pain, while still allowing a woman to feel her contractions enough to push.

Side effects to the mother can include nausea, dizziness, a feeling of sedation, and respiratory problems. Likewise, the baby may experience respiratory and neurological impairments that will require the administering of intravenous medication after birth.

There are additional labor pain relieving methods which require no medication at all. Sitting in a warm bath or taking a warm shower, sitting or leaning on a birthing ball, taking classes with a certified hypnotherapist, developing visualization techniques, or receiving massages have all been considered effective forms of pain management for women choosing to go the natural route.

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