Labor pain can be SO intense and there really is nothing sweeter than getting that Epidural when you need it. I had Epidurals with all three of my babes and it was great!
As much as I would have liked to go natural, I just couldn’t do it, and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with getting one and it can make birth so much more enjoyable.
In fact, two-thirds of mamas use them with great success.
Since you’re here I’m assuming you’re close to birth and thinking you may get one so I’m going to tell you EXACTLY what to expect. After you read this you’ll know what’s coming and you’ll feel prepared.
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Epidurals And Labor Pain Management | Here’s What To Expect!
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It Will Take Some Time
It would be great if you could have an Epidural THE SECOND you decide you’re ready, but it doesn’t work that way.
Once you feel like you want one, they will need to order the procedure. This can take quite a bit of time, unfortunately.
Like up to an hour and a half if they’re really busy. It’s pretty much torture when you’re ready for relief.
My advice to you is to not wait until the pain is completely out of control if you’re absolutely sure you’re getting one anyway. Let them know and expect to wait a while.
And Here’s How An Epidural Is Done
Here’s exactly what to expect when they are getting ready to do your epidural.
An anesthesiologist will come in and have you sit on the edge of the hospital bed. They will wipe the area that they plan on sticking the needle in with an antiseptic to help prevent infection.
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After this, they’ll give you an injection of a local anesthetic to help numb you some because getting an epidural can be pretty hardcore.
Then they will position a large needle between the bones of your spine in your lower back, making space for a catheter (a small plastic tube) to be inserted into the area just outside the cover of the spinal canal.
A mixture of anesthetic and opioids will then be injected into the catheter.
After all that, it will take about 10 minutes to feel complete numbing relief from the belly down.
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Sometimes It Takes More Than One Try
Sometimes they are not successful at getting the epidural in just right. This means they’ll have to try again and it sucks.
Some women I have talked to had them fail three or more times until they finally got it right.
So be prepared for this knowing that they may have to stick you several times.
It Will Really Hurt
I hate telling you that, but it’s true. You’re already going through very painful contractions but to get the epidural in you’ll have to experience a different kind of pain.
Occasionally it’s not that bad. During my first childbirth, It didn’t hurt too much, but the other two were really bad.
The type of pain you feel when they give you an epidural is nerve pain. It’s like this terrible dull ache when they hit a nerve in your back.
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It feels similar to when you are drinking something hot or cold and it hits a nerve in a tooth. That sort of shooting, consuming pain.
Not trying to scare you here, just prepare you. The good news is that it’s over very quickly and the relief comes soon after for most.
You’ll need An IV
There will be a needle taped to your spine and it will have to stay in there the duration of the epidural. That’s how the medicine will flow into the spinal canal.
It feels a little annoying but that’s just part of having an epidural.
And A Catheter
You’ll also have a catheter so that you can urinate. Since you’re essentially paralyzed from the stomach down your bladder will not be able to empty itself so you’ll need a little help.
They often will just give you an ” in and out ” catheter but some hospitals will leave one in.
It’s uncomfortable when they put it in despite having an epidural. Or at least it was for me but it’s over quickly.
But Then It May Not Always Work
This is the most unfortunate thing about Epidurals. Occasionally they don’t work. Ugh!
It’s just something that happens sometimes and it often has to do with the skill of your anesthesiologist.
I was lucky and all three of mine worked great but my sister’s first Epidural was not successful. Meaning it didn’t work at all.
Some women experience pain relief on only one side of their body too. They have full relief on one side and full labor pain on the other.
But I guess half is better than nothing. Don’t worry too much though, it’s rare that it doesn’t work but it’s a possibility you should be aware of.
You May Get The Shakes Or Puke
It’s very common that you will begin to shake all over after you get the procedure done. It has something to do with adrenaline.
This happened to me each time I had one and the first time I was alarmed by it. It feels like intense shivers as if you’re cold.
You may also vomit. It’s just your body’s reaction to the medication.
It Can Make Pushing Harder
It sounds strange to say that you won’t know how to push if you have an Epidural but it’s true.
If you can’t feel your lower half you can’t necessarily engage and contract the right muscles to do effective pushing. It can be difficult.
Studies show that you can push an extra hour or longer when you have one.
I pushed for three and a half hours with my first because I could not push effectively ( plus he was huge at 9.3 Pounds ) and it was super exhausting.
But still, I enjoyed the whole birthing process so much more because I wasn’t in agony. So having an Epidural was definitely worth it.
So that’s it. Now you know exactly what to expect if you decide to get an Epidural.
Either way, I wish you lots of luck and I hope you enjoy your childbirth experience.
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