The word ‘epidural’ is derived from the ancient Greek. It is a technique whereby epidural analgesia or epidural anesthesia is given during surgical procedures.
An epidural is used especially in childbirth to produce loss of sensation below the waist. An injection of anesthetic drug is given with the aid of a catheter in the epidural space. This causes a loss of sensation- by blocking the signal transmission through nerve fibers in the spinal cord.
The pain killer drugs are instilled in your spinal cord- this is called regional anesthesia. This provides an efficient pain relief and makes your tummy numb.
The epidural anesthesia is given by a qualified anesthetist who injects an injection in lower back followed by insertion of a hollow needle in the space between small bones of your spine.
A fine tube is passed through this needle and then the needle is removed and the tube is carefully taped on your back and on your shoulder. You should try to remain still when your anesthetist gives you the epidural.
You will be asked to sit leaning forward. This particular posture opens up the spaces between two spinal bones. Breathe deeply via your nose and breathe out slowly through mouth.
The mode of action of epidural is based on its action on nerves carrying the pain signals from mother’s uterus to the brain. Generally, the hospitals use low-dose epidurals containing a mixture of analgesics such as bupivacaine or levobupivacaine and fentanyl- an opioid. You could feel some sensation in your legs and feet if the dose of an epidural is low.
You can take an epidural anytime during your labor. Most women request for a dose of an epidural once the contractions start getting strong, mostly when the cervix dilates to about 5 cms or 6 cm, which is 2 inches and 2.4 inches. The doctor may offer you an epidural if he feels that your labor needs to be speeded up.
Experts believe that epidural drugs affect the oxygen availability to your baby. The oxygen supply to your baby is disturbed with the fall of your blood pressure. Before giving epidural, a tiny tube (intravenous canula) is inserted in your arm or hand. This is done for giving drugs or fluids if your blood pressure drops.
The opioid fentanyl present in epidural solution can cross the placenta. If fentanyl is given in high amount, the baby’s breathing is severely hampered.
The advantages or benefits of epidural anesthesia can be summarized as under:
Epidurals mitigate the labor pains and facilitate the birth of the baby but its administration is intricate and should be carefully done.
Chickpeas During Pregnancy – Benefits and Side Effects
Gluten Intolerance During Pregnancy – Signs, Symptoms and Complications
Eating Curry Leaves During Pregnancy: Benefits and Precautions
Ragi During Pregnancy – Is it safe?
Capsicum During Pregnancy- Is it Safe to Consume?
Liquorice During Pregnancy- Pros And Cons