Common Myths About Epidurals
Making the decision to have an epidural during your labor is a very important decision. Labor itself, although natural and part of a woman’s life, is also painful. This is something that can’t be stressed enough, it just hurts to have a baby. Your body is going through a process that is going to get a whole human being out of you through a fairly small area. Your body knows what it’s doing to make the event go as smoothly as possible, hopefully without any complications. One of the ways that you can make labor a more pleasant experience is to get some medical assistance in the form of an epidural.
What Exactly Is an Epidural?
An epidural is a form of anesthesia used during labor. More than half of women who go through labor use this form of pain relief. It regionally blocks pain signals in the body when it’s inserted in the lower back. A trained anesthesiologist will perform the procedure, and the relief you feel from the contractions will be almost immediate. It will block the pain in the lower half of your body. Before the epidural is administered you will be hooked up to an IV drip to give you fluids. Then when the epidural is given, you will be sitting up straight on the edge of the bed. A needle is inserted into your lower back with a catheter to give you the medication once the needle is removed.
Some Myths Surrounding The Procedure
Myth #1: An Epidural Could Paralyze You
Some people fear this because it’s so close to the spinal column. They worry they won’t ever regain feeling in their lower half. The odds of being permanently paralyzed are so very rare. The British Journal of Anesthesia did a study that reported that the odds of being paralyzed are even less than they thought before. It’s less than 1 in 50,000 women. To put it into perspective your odds of getting hit by lighting in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000. So it’s highly unlikely that you will suffer any permanent damage from a routine epidural. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns or questions about this procedure, so that you will be able to make the right decision for your own body.
Myth #2: An Epidural May Slow Down or Stop Your Labor
This is actually the complete opposite of what happens to most women. Once you get the epidural, it does allow you to relax. You aren’t in pain anymore, so it decreases your stress hormones which then allows your labor to progress better. Many women describe feelings of enjoying their labor once they receive the epidural. They are able to chat and talk with their labor partners better, as well which makes the time go by faster.
Myth #3: An Epidural Causes Side Effects, Such As Sciatica and Back Pain
Most women who experience back pain after having a baby is due to the fact that they have laid in bed for a long time during the labor, or the baby itself has put stress on the lower back during delivery. It’s not due to the epidural procedure itself. Plus, constantly holding a new baby will put stress on the back as well even after you leave the hospital.
If you are expecting and you are thinking about an epidural during your delivery, be sure to discuss an epidural with your doctor.