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Epidurals: Essential epidural information

Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 22 May 2011

Some women find bearing the pain of childbirth an enriching experience, but many choose to have an epidural that provides pain relief to help the birth of their baby to go more smoothly.

Epidurals: Essential epidural information

Epidural © iStockphoto What is an epidural?

An epidural is a local anaesthetic administered during childbirth to women who don't want to give birth to their baby in pain. It is injected into the epidural space that surrounds the spinal cord and numbs the nerves that lead to the lesser pelvis only.

When and how is it administered?

When your contractions start to become too painful, the doctor will give you an injection in the back while you either lie on your side or sit on the bed.

The needle is inserted between two vertebrae to reach the epidural space which surrounds the spinal cord. A tube is then inserted into the needle, the needle is then removed and the anaesthetic injected.

Your blood pressure and heartbeat are monitored throughout and it takes 10-15 minutes for the pain to lessen after the injection.

What does an epidural involve

Advantages of an epidural

Disadvantages of having an epidural

Alternative ways of coping with the pain of giving birth

Other forms of pain relief in labour include the following:

Entonox (gas and air)
Pharmacological opiates such as Pethidine

More information about epidurals

For or against: Epidurals

Five ways to give birth

Scared of giving birth quiz

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