All mums know that delivering a baby isn’t necessarily easy and that it can be incredibly painful. However, there are pain-management options for mums to choose from that can help make birth a little easier. One of these is an epidural. There are pros and cons to having one, so should you get an epidural?
To help you make the decision on whether or not this is the right pain management choice for you, we have listed the pros and cons, and what you need to know about epidurals!
What Is An Epidural?
An epidural is used to block nerve signals from the lower part of your spine. These nerve signals are what are responsible for feelings of pain.
It is administered through a catheter that is run through a fairly large needle that is inserted into the epidural space around your spinal cord. The catheter stays in place during delivery to help deliver the medication.
The Pros Of Having An Epidural
- An epidural is one of the most effective pain relief methods during labour and delivery. It has very few side effects for mum and baby and can begin to relieve pain within 10 minutes.
- With the relief from labour pain, you can get more rest. This is especially beneficial for mums who are experiencing a long labour. This relaxation can even help to make the birth experience more enjoyable and positive.
- You can stay alert with an epidural. It also saves you from discomfort if a vacuum or forceps are needed. For C-sections, you can stay awake during the procedure and not feel any pain.
- Epidurals can be given at any point in labour. You can opt to have one in the moment, even if it was not part of your birthing plan.
- Epidurals provide continuous pain relief for longer surgical procedures, such as during a C-section.
The Cons Of Having An Epidural
- Epidurals can result in a sudden drop in blood pressure. However, your blood pressure will be monitored throughout labour and delivery. If your blood pressure does drop, you may need medication, fluid, or oxygen.
- Some women do experience some side effects after an epidural. These can include a fever, shivering, or itchiness. You might also experience some nausea or dizziness when the epidural is removed. The site of the needled insertion might also be sore.
- Pushing might be made more difficult with an epidural, which could increase your chance of needing interventions during birth.
- You might be numb below the waist for a few hours after birth and may have to stay in bed because of this.
- Having an epidural usually means that you need a urinary catheter to empty your bladder. This is temporary and is usually removed once the numbness goes away.
Choosing Pain Management
You do not have to make a decision before labour on whether or not you are going to have an epidural. You can choose to have one at any point during labour, and you might change your mind in the moment.
Understanding the pros and cons will help you be informed for when you do need to make a decision!