Epidurals During Labor

Epidurals During Labor: Misconceptions, Benefits and Risks

Delivery or childbirth is associated with an immense amount of pain and discomfort, no doubt it is a universal truth. However, with the improvement and evolution in medical science, this pain and discomfort can be ease-out very easily and effectively. The benefits of epidural during labor are enormous which we will discuss elaborately in this article.

Epidural is a process in which a local anesthetic is injected into the spinal nerve’s surrounding space in the lower back area. Once the anesthetic is injected it blocks the pain signal caused by labor contractions and during the birth process.

Your body can easily move and create normal pressure when you wish to push your baby out normally even with an epidural injection. However, the benefit of this anesthetic is that you won’t have to suffer from that intense pain and difficulty that usually women faces around the world during their labor pain or baby birth.

Epidural is one of the most effective pain management techniques for easing the discomfort of women in labor pain. However in spite of its tremendous health benefits and effectiveness even this medical procedure is not completely free from myths or misconception that generally people hold which sabotage them from grabbing its benefits for their health.

However, in this context, it must be said whether you want to have epidurals or not it is completely your personal decision and no certain healthcare specialist can forcefully apply this without your or your family members consent.

As per the National Centre for Health Statistics report, around 60 percent of women around the world are given either an epidural or combined spinal-epidural anesthesia in order to ease the labor pain discomforts.

However, the application of combined spinal epidurals is most common than the spinal epidural alone as per the report of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). It is a one-time injection for pain medication and getting popular and improved year by year.

So you should not miss the advantages and high rate of protection and easy delivery processing health benefits which the epidural, a local anesthetic procedure can provide to you.

However, it will be better that you discuss the benefits and risk factors of this process with your regular doctor as they can only guide you better whether the application of this procedure will be suitable in your particular case type or not.

Epidural Processing Method

benefits of epidural during laborThe whole epidural processing will be done under the supervision of an anesthesiologist, an obstetrician or a nurse anesthetist. The patient is required to sit or lie down with arch back posture and should remain still until the procedure completed fully.

This position ensures that any issue will not occur during the processing time and also for enhancing the effectiveness of epidural. After that, an antiseptic solution will be used for wiping out your mid-section of the body to minimize the risk of infection.

Now you are completely ready for getting an anesthetic injection. A local anesthetic is injected on your back portion in order to numb this area. After that, a needle is inserted into the surrounding of the numb area that is the lower back portion of the spinal cord.

Once this baseline is ready then its time for catheter or tube insertion, which is threaded with the help of needle into the epidural area. Then the needle is removed very carefully leaving the threaded catheter in its place.

The catheter is used further for providing essential medications either by regular infusion or through periodical injections.

For keeping the catheter in its place tightly and avoiding the slipping out risk it is taped by the nurse.


There are lots of misconception regarding the usage and effectiveness of epidurals. However, these myths or misconception are far from reality or truth. Some most common misconception and the real facts behind those myths are mentioned below.

The usage of epidurals can harm baby health

It is a very common myth regarding the epidurals application for pain relief caused by labor or during the birth process that it can badly impact the baby’s health.

However, in reality, there is no supporting evidence or researches to prove this claim or myth of people. In fact, the portion of medications that reach to a baby through epidurals is too less in the quantity that it can hardly cause a harmful effect to the unborn child.

The usage of epidural can interfere with the normal delivery process

Some women believe that the usage of epidurals can affect their normal walking due to numbness and it can reduce their lower body sensitivity so they will not be able to feel the contraction or can push out their baby.

This is absolutely a myth, in fact, the application of epidurals doesn’t make your lower body portion so numb that it cannot move or walk when you want so. You can freely walk after the placement of epidurals unless it is not restricted by the hospital policy.

The medications that are given through the epidurals are so effective that you can normally feel the contraction and push effectively for the delivery purpose without feeling that intense pain that normally happens during the labor period.

Epidurals usage can cause permanent back pain issue or even paralysis.

Some women have a fear that usage of epidurals can cause permanent back pain issue and even paralysis concern which is not true. Yes, the place (lower back) where a catheter is inserted causes discomfort for some time but it is only a temporary concern and after some time, it disappears permanently.

Also, the risk of paralysis is an extremely rare condition that hardly happens in women undergoing epidurals processing.

Epidurals can be placed only within a stipulated time period

Though some people think that epidurals can be placed or used only within a limited time period or limited window of time however it is far from reality. An epidural can be easily placed during any time of your labor including the beginning, middle and even towards the end of processing.

Epidurals usage increases the risk of C-section by slowing down the labor pressure

People have a very common misconception regarding the epidurals application that its usage can slow down the labor or can increase the chances of C-section (cesarean section).

However, there is no reliable research or evidence which can prove this claim or belief of people. Yes, the risk of C-section increases under special circumstances such as large baby size, a lesser progression of labor and other such factors.

Epidural has no role in slowing down labor. In fact, there are many real-time evidence which proves that epidurals usage can boost the first stage of labor.


Relieves from Pain

Out of different pain-relieving methods, the epidural is considered the most effective one to provide relief from pain and discomfort develops during the labor or childbirth.

Moreover, the best advantage of this one-time pain medication is that it contains the very minimal risk of side effects both for the mother as well as for the baby.

It is so fast and effective that after insertion in the body within 10 to 20 minutes you will start getting relief from that intense pain caused by labor or delivery. In fact, there is evidence which shows that women who got epidural during the delivery process felt little or almost no pain at all.

Keep You Attentive

One of the biggest benefits of placing epidurals during labor is that it won’t make you unconscious at all. Instead, you remain attentive throughout the processing and have active participation in the delivery process.

If in your particular case the necessity of using a vacuum or forceps arises to pull your baby out it will offer its spare discomfort which is needed in the said process.

Also if you need to undergo C-section deliveries, in that case, you can easily stay awake during the whole process and receive pain killer medication in your recovery time.

It Offers More Time for Relaxation

As the epidurals help in easing pain and discomfort of labor or delivery so you can rest and relax for longer duration which is hardly possible in a normal labor procedure without accompanied by any supportive or pain relaxing techniques.

With more body relaxation you get a more positive delivery experience that further encourages you to plan for second childbirth as well. On the other hand, women who have more negative and painful experience in their first delivery hardly plan or think for the second baby.

One Can get Epidural at Any time during the Labor

You can get epidural at any point in time of your delivery process whenever its necessity arises depending upon your personal case. That means even though it was not a part of your initial birth or delivery plan according to the circumstances you can avail its benefits for your best well being and comfort.

Beneficial for Long Term Surgery Processes

The aim of epidurals is to offer you relief and relaxation from pain effortlessly and continuously. This special feature of this procedure makes it effective during the long term surgery process as well as in their recovery period as needed in the case of a C-section delivery procedure.

In the cases of long surgical procedure, the doses of medications are increased so that its effects would last for the longer duration. For the time being, you will lose consciousness of your body below your waistline. Once the process completed and the effect of medication dose reduces you will start getting back your consciousness.

Prevents Postpartum Depression Risk

The usage or application of epidurals during labor or delivery process don’t let you suffer from the postpartum depression a mental health concern. This issue is very much common in women who have to suffer from a very long term painful labor or delivery experiences.

Hence you can better care to your baby as well yourself which is hardly possible for women who develop postpartum depression after giving birth to their child.


There is no medical process which is completely free from the risk of developing certain small to big side effects or consequences. Some common risk factors which are associated with the usage of epidurals during labor which may or may not happen are mentioned below.

Your Blood Pressure Level can Drop

Blood pressure is monitored throughout the labor and delivery process as because stable blood pressure is very crucial to ensure that there is a smoother and necessary blood flow throughout your body as well as to your baby.

However, with the epidurals application, the risk of a drop in your blood pressure level exists which can cause an immediate need for fluids, oxygen, and medication to protect yours as well as your baby’s life.

Permanent Nerve Damage

Permanent nerve-damaging is a very rare case associated with epidurals application during labor. However, if the usage of needle or catheter causes damage to the spinal cord or the damages occur due to excessive bleeding or infection in the area where epidurals placed can cause permanent nerve damage.

However, the training process of anesthesiologists is so strong and effective that there are very low chances of permanent nerve-damaging by epidurals use.

Severe Headache Risk

If any leakage happens to the spinal fluid then it can develop severe headache concern as its side effect. The cases where severe headache persists for a longer duration, blood patch is conducted under which some amount of your blood is injected into spinal space in order to treat and relieve headache.

Interfere with Normal Labor Pressure

After the placement of epidurals, labor pressure either slow down or stop fully in certain cases hence the affected women face difficulty in pushing. This increases the necessity of other medical processes to complete the delivery such as extra medications, fluids, forceps, C-section, etc.

The Lower Half Portion of Body Get Numb for a While

The lower half body area gets numbed for a while even after the baby birth if epidurals are used in the birth process. This condition may persist for a few hours and you will only be able to move your body once the numbness reduces or diminished fully.

Respiratory Distress Risk in Baby

The risk of respiratory distress exists in baby immediately after their birth whose mother undergone through epidurals process during the birth. However, there is no definite supporting evidence to prove whether epidurals effect can impact the respiratory system of the newborn baby.

Difficulty in Urinating

The usage of epidurals increases the necessity of using a urinary catheter to empty your bladder. However, this is a temporary setting and once the numbness resolved the urinary catheter is removed.

In spite of the removal of a urinary catheter for some time you may face difficulty in urinating comfortably and feeling of pain and discomfort may persist in the initial few days.

The chances of above risk factors especially the major risk factors or consequences are very low and those are the rarest cases. It cannot omit or override the effectiveness and benefits of epidural during labor which ensures a very comfortable delivery experience to women.

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