An epidural will give you strong labour pain relief, but could mean that you won’t feel anything at all.
Around 30 per cent of women in the UK choose to have an epidural during labour. Known as the big mama of pain relief, it has pros – and cons.
Here's everything you need to know about having an epidural...
What is an epidural?
During an epidural, strong painkillers are injected into your back via a fine tube. It’s a regional anaesthetic, so the drug is injected around the nerves that carry signals from the part of your body that feels pain during labour. It will numb your tummy completely, and although it provides you with strong pain relief the drugs will have no effect on your baby.
When would you use it?
A low-dose epidural will probably mean that you will have some sensation in your legs and feet, but generally, it acts as a way of completely numbing from the waist down. If you want to move about, you will need a mobile epidural, which requires extra staff to monitor you.
If you are planning a C-section, or end up needing one, you will probably be given an epidural. The other options are a spinal block or general anaesthetic in some cases.
The pros of an epidural:
Provides you with very strong pain relief, and will numb your tummy
After the pain of contractions, an epidural can help you to feel more clear-headed
Allows you to rest
The strong pain relief will help you to feel calmer
If you are given an epidural early on in labour, it can be topped up to maintain the pain relief later on
The cons of an epidural
The numbing effect will mean you won’t be able to feel anything so your midwife will have to tell you when to push
An epidural can cause you to have severe headaches
Increases the risk of your baby being delivered by forceps or ventouse
Can cause a drop in your blood sugar
You’ll need to be put on a drip and have your baby’s heart rate continually monitored during labour
Popular articles to read next
Make sure you're following Mother & Baby on Instagram for relatable memes, inspiring stories and parenting hacks!
Subscribe to Mother&Baby magazine for expert tips, must-have products and invaluable advice for mums, delivered straight to your door.
Whether you’re planning your new baby essentials shopping list, giving friends and family gift ideas, or planning for your baby shower, the Amazon Baby Wish List allows you to keep track of all your shopping ideas in one place. Click here to start yours today!