Labor Pain Medication at a Glance

Combined or Walking Epidural

What it does: A relatively new technique, the "walking epidural" blocks pain nerves but not motor nerves. It provides the rapid pain relief of a spinal block and the continuous relief of an epidural. It works fast -- pain subsides within two minutes -- and in some hospitals, you can regulate your own dosage.

When it's used: A walking epidural is administered similarly to an epidural, and lasts as long as baby's delivery, supplying a continuous infusion of medication as needed.

How it's given: It's usually administered as a two-injection procedure, the first injection being about half the usual epidural dose. Further injections are given only as needed, reducing the total amount of drug used.

Pros:

  • Maternal blood pressure usually doesn't drop.
  • Since less medication is delivered, less is absorbed by the baby.
  • The use of a thin needle reduces risk of headache.
  • This method reduces risk of long-term backache and need for forceps delivery.

Cons:

  • It can cause dizziness so you may not feel like walking around.

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