Epidural Anesthesia in Childbirth
(Peridural Anesthesia; Regional Anesthesia; Epidural)
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Reasons for Procedure
- Low platelet counts
- Blood is too thin because of blood thinners
- Bleeding (hemorrhaging) or you are in shock
- Serious infection in your back or blood
- Labor is moving too fast and there is no time to place the catheter to administer the drug
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Description of the Procedure
- You will need to arch your back and remain very still. You will either be lying on your side or sitting up.
- The area around your waistline on your middle back will be wiped with an antiseptic solution to reduce the chance of infection. The solution may feel cold on your skin.
- A small area on your back will be injected with a local anesthetic to make it numb.
- A needle will be inserted into the numbed area in your lower back. A catheter (small tube) will be threaded through the needle into the space that surrounds your spinal cord in your lower back.
- The needle will be removed and the catheter taped to your back. The doctor will use the catheter to put more medicine in, if necessary.
Immediately After Procedure
- Ringing in your ears
- Soreness where the needle is inserted
- Difficulty urinating
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
- If labor continues for more than a few hours after the epidural, you may need a urinary catheter. This is a tube that your urine will pass through when you need to go to the bathroom. It will be removed after the baby is born.
- Rarely, the effect of the epidural may progress up your spinal cord causing difficulty in breathing. Tell your doctor if you experience this.
- A few hours after the baby is born, you may feel a tingling in the lower half of you body. This means that the anesthesia is wearing off. You may need help to walk until the anesthesia wears off completely.
- If you have a headache, let your nurse or doctor know.
Call Your Doctor
- Lingering or worsening back pain
- Severe headache
- Signs of infection such as redness or swelling
American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org/
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org/For%5FPatients
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/
Bennett MJ, Leader LR, Wong F. Handbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology . 4th ed. London, UK: Chapman and Hall; 1996.
Comfort measures (pharmacologic) during labor. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.what.php . Updated November 12, 2012. Accessed December 20, 2012.
Whitley N. A Manual of Clinical Obstetrics . Philadelphia, PA: JB Lippincott Company; 1985:343:619-621.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 03/2013 -
- Update Date: 00/31/2013 -