Labor Pain-Relief Primer

Epidural

Birth Stories: Delivery with an Epidural
Birth Stories: Delivery with an Epidural

How It's Given

A catheter is inserted into the space between the sheath surrounding the spinal cord and the vertebrae of the spine, and a continuous infusion of drugs is delivered, numbing the lower body.

What It Does

Relief begins after about 15 minutes. Alleviates pain in the pelvic area to a varying degree, depending on the concentration of anesthetic.

Things to Consider

  • Many hospitals still use more traditional epidurals (those with 0.25 percent or more bupivacaine), which can make it difficult to get out of bed and may prolong labor. Newer, more dilute combinations (known as walking epidurals) are less likely to hamper mobility but increase your risk of breakthrough pain. Ask what is available at your hospital.
  • Small risk of infection at the injection site.

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