An epidural is an anesthetic injected in your back to stop you from feeling pain in any part of your body. Most commonly, it is used for pain relief during labor and childbirth, including cesareans. But it is also used during and after other types of surgeries. Oftentimes, it can be paired with a steroid medicine to treat pain caused by sciatica or a prolapsed disc, in your back or leg. The amount of medication that reaches the baby from the epidural is quite small, and research shows that there is no evidence of it causing any harm to both the mother or the child.
For this reason, epidurals are becoming increasingly popular. Although epidural is a simple and relatively harmless procedure, it is still advised to share your concerns and doubts with your gynecologist in lahore before you opt for it. Your doctor should be aware of all the medications you are taking and if you are allergic to anything before they administer the epidural, this is to ensure your safety.
How Does an Epidural Work?
Before an epidural, it is possible that your doctor may give you specific advice about eating, drinking and taking your medicines. Except for some types of surgeries, epidurals are usually given when you are awake. They are administered by anesthesiologists and the procedure is quite simple. First, a drip is placed in your arm so that your body stays well hydrated during the epidural. As far as the position is concerned, you should be sitting down and leaning forwards, or lying on your side with your knees up to your chest, when you are being injected.
Next, your doctor will administer an injection of local anesthetic to numb the area where the epidural is to be inserted. A needle is then used to insert the epidural catheter, which is a fine plastic tube, into your back since this is the region near the nerves responsible for carrying pain messages to the brain. Finally, the needle is removed, leaving the catheter in the spine. The insertion can cause mild discomfort, but other than that, the process is painless. The pain relief medicines given through the catheter can normally take between 5-30 minutes to work to the fullest.
After the epidural is stopped, numbness can last for a few hours before the effects begin to wear off. During this time, your doctor may advise you to rest in a lying or sitting position until the feeling in your legs returns. You should not feel more than a tingling sensation. If you do feel pain, tell your doctor immediately as they can give you medicines to counter it. Driving, operating machinery or drinking alcohol at least 24 hours after your epidural is highly discouraged.
Epidural during labor can be quite beneficial. Research proves that mothers who chose to get an epidural experience a less stressful birth. Other than pain relief, one major benefit of an epidural is that even though it numbs your body (from the bellybutton to your upper legs) it still lets you stay alert enough to push when it is time for you to give birth.
Risks and Side Effects
Epidurals are usually a safe option for most women, but there can be some medical restrictions for others. This is why it is always advised to discuss your case with your gynecologist in detail to make sure you’re not putting your health, or the baby’s, at risk. Here are a few side effects of getting an epidural:
- Temporary weakness in legs, so you have to stay on the bed to avoid falling down
- Low blood pressure, which can make you feel nauseous and lightheaded
- Loss of feeling in the bladder, so you might need a catheter to help you pass urine
- Cold or itchy skin
- Headache after recovery. It can last from around 24-48 hours
- Small chance of developing an infection
- Epidurals aren’t always effective. A small percentage of people get little to no pain relief
- Although extremely rare, an epidural can cause permanent nerve damage
It is always a good idea to discuss the procedure with your doctor beforehand, and inquire about any extra costs and fees involved to ensure that the process runs smoothly.