Do you remember how you used to go all prepared for your exam and then the faculties used to change the whole course of the question paper? Similarly, despite all your preparation before the labour, babies can change the entire syllabus and they cannot even be blamed for it. However, there is a solution called “Epidural” for any last-minute changes and today we are going to know more about it.
So let’s get started!
HOW DOES AN EPIDURAL WORK?
Epidurals work by placing a small tube in the space beside the spinal column. Medication is placed through the tube that numbs the nerves and provides pain relief to the lower part of your body, while still allowing you to feel the pressure. Effectiveness of the epidural can depend on many factors including the patient’s anatomy, previous back surgeries, and the degree of experience of your Gyno Friend.
Is Epidural safe?
The very thought of a needle being inserted into your back millimetres from your spinal cord is nerve-wracking, but nerve damage from the epidural needle is extremely rare – so rare there are not enough data points to give us an actual risk percentage. As with any medical procedure, there is a risk of complications and how. But hey, I have good news too - Epidurals are safe for babies. Only minimal amounts of the medication in the epidural reaches the baby. Studies do not show any difference in outcomes in babies born to moms with and without an epidural.
Do epidurals increase the risk of cesarean section?
The question has been there in the debate for a very long time but we do see a silver lining now. The most recent data shows that they do not. Epidurals often increase the length of time you need to push because it can be difficult to feel the contractions, but in large studies, the cesarean section rate is not increased.
Can you get an epidural too early or too late?
Pregnant mommies often ask, if there is a point where they can’t get their epidural. Well, in this matter if you have enough time to place an IV and get your lab results; then you can get an epidural if you can remain still enough for the anaesthesia team to safely place it. This is likely dependent on the facility as well. Sometimes labour is simply moving too fast, and there is not enough time for it to be placed or for it to take effect.
How early can you get an epidural? The textbook answer is that you can get an epidural as soon as you feel the pain is intense enough for you to handle. Genuinely out the textbooks, it seems that when epidurals are in place for extended amounts of time, they can sometimes become less effective. First labours can be very long, it is suggested that the first-timers to try to wait until they are making a good cervical change before they get their epidural.
Who all should not opt for an epidural?
If you are on blood thinners or your blood clotting factors (platelets) are low on your blood work, then it may not be safe for you to get an epidural. If you have increased bleeding when the epidural is placed this can cause serious nerve damage.
If you have had surgery on your spine or your spine is abnormally shaped (i.e. spina bifida) you may not be able to get an epidural.
If you have a high fever, increased infection cells on your blood count, or even severe back acne, an epidural may not be the safest option, as introducing a needle might spread dangerous bacteria into that space and cause infection.
Do epidurals cause chronic back pain?
Epidurals can cause low backache for a couple of weeks after delivery but are not associated with increased chronic low back pain when compared to women who labour without medication.
In the end, I’d say that it’s your baby and your choice. If you want to feel empowered and opt for natural birthing, then more power to you woman. And for others who want to really check out the advancement in technology, then you can definitely go for an epidural, but do consult with your doctor who knows your pregnancy better.