If you are pregnant, you have so many decisions to make before you give birth to your new child. Many of them will be about the delivery process and how you want to bring your child into the world. If you are planning a vaginal delivery, you will want to decide whether you want to have a natural birth or use medications to help with the pain. One option available is epidural anesthesia, which can greatly relieve some of the pain of labor. Here are some of the basics on epidural anesthesia to help you decide whether it is right for you.
- Epidural anesthesia is the most popular form of medication used during childbirth. An estimated 50% or more of women giving birth in hospitals in the U.S. request an epidural during labor.
- Epidural anesthesia is a regional anesthesia that only affects the lower portion of the body. This means you are still completely conscious during labor, but have less sensation in your lower body, helping relieve some of the pain from childbirth.
- Epidurals work by blocking the nerve signals from the lower body, reducing the pain registered by the brain. They can be used alone or combined with narcotics or opiates such as fentanyl or morphine.
- There are side effects that can accompany an epidural. Some of these include severe headaches, prolonged numbness for several hours after the injection, rare instances of nerve damage and lowering of blood pressure.
If you are not sure whether or not you want the option of epidural anesthesia during delivery, talk with your OB/GYN about the pros and cons of using medication. It is ultimately your personal decision whether or not to choose an epidural for your delivery, but it is a decision you should make before your delivery day comes.
Posted on behalf of
North Point OB/GYN Associates
1505 Northside Boulevard #3500
Cumming, GA 30041