Six Things You Need to Know About Epidurals

Depending on which camp you sit in, an epidural can be a gift sent from God himself, or just another way to medicalise your birth experience. And because of these polar positions there’s a lot of misinformation around epidurals. Your doctor or midwife can set you straight on most of this misinformation, but here are a few other important things it’s worth knowing about epidurals.

You Can Change Your Mind

Many women wrongly believe that because your birth plan says no to epidurals, then there’s no going back.  It’s hard to know how your body will respond to labour and birth so it’s worth writing a caveat into your birth plan. You could use wording such as “my preference is for a completely natural birth without pain relief, but I will be guided by my health professionals and my body on the day”.

You Can Get An Epidural Any Time In the First Stage of Labour

As long as you’re not pushing your baby out, you can request an epidural. However, if you are close to being fully dilated many health professionals will explain that you are too far along to get one, simply because the baby will be on its way out before the anaesthetist has finished administering it.

There’s No Pressure to Have an Epidural

No one really cares if you have an epidural. So if you’re adamant that you don’t want one just say ‘no thank you’. You’re more likely to be offered an epidural if your baby is posterior, you’re attempting a vaginal breech birth or you’re being induced, simply because these scenarios can be more painful than a regular birth, but there’s no pressure to have the epidural if you don’t want it.

Epidurals Don’t Hurt (As Much as a Contraction)

Most women will describe the pain from labour as up there as one of the most painful experiences they have endured. An epidural doesn’t even compare. When the anaesthetist injects the local anaesthetic into your back, you’ll feel a bit of a sting for about ten seconds. But that’s it. A walk in the park by comparison.

You Can Still Push Your Baby Out

It’s likely you’ll still feel tightenings across your belly, but not pain. The tightenings are your sign to push. Your midwife will also be able to tell you when to push if you are completely numb, so you can follow her directions if you’re not sure.

An Epidural Won’t Increase your Chance of a C-section

There are plenty of studies that have proven that having an epidural won’t increase your chances of a C-section. However, you are more likely to have other interventions if you have an epidural very early in your labour.

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