Topic: Epidural Anesthesia: The New Normal In Child Birth?
Currently this is the most popular and trending method of pain relief during labor.
Alarmingly women request an epidural by name more than any other method of pain relief.
Current data shows that more than 50%of women giving birth at hospitals in the US use epidural anesthesia.
It is important to have basic knowledge about this procedure. For expecting women who will prefer this option, please it is pertinent to prepare yourself for “labor day,”.
I will implore you to try and learn as much as possible about pain relief options so that you will be better prepared to make informed decisions prior to and during the labor and birth process.
There are different types of epidurals, how they are administered, and their benefits and risks. Knowing all these will help you in your decision-making during the course of labor and delivery.
● So, What is epidural anesthesia?
This is simply a regional ( localized) anesthesia ( pain killer) that blocks pain in a particular region of the body. The goal of an epidural is to provide analgesia, or pain relief, rather than anesthesia,which leads to total lack of feeling.
Please note,epidurals block the nerve impulses from the lower spinal segment( the part when the baby will be born from). This results in decreased sensation in the lower half of the body.
Epidural medications fall into a class of drugs called local anesthetics.
They are often delivered in combination with opioids or narcotics ( strong pain killers) in order to decrease the required dose of local anesthetic.
This produces pain relief with minimal effects. These medications may be used in combination with other medications to. stabilize the mother’s blood pressure.
● What are the benefits of epidural anesthesia?
1.Allows you to rest if your labor is prolonged.By reducing the discomfort of childbirth, some woman have a more positive birth experience.
2. Normally, an epidural will allow you to remain alert and be an active participant in your birth.
3. If you deliver by cesarean, an epidural anesthesia will allow you to stay awake and also provide effective pain relief during recovery.
4.When other types of coping mechanisms are no longer helping, an epidural can help you deal with exhaustion, irritability, and fatigue.
5. An epidural can allow you to rest, relax, get focused, and give you the strength to move forward as an active participant in your birth experience.
Please note, the use of epidural anesthesia during childbirth is continually being refined, and much of its success depends on the skill with which it is administered.
● What are the risks of epidural anesthesia?
1. Epidurals may cause your blood pressure to suddenly drop. For this reason your blood pressure will be routinely checked to help ensure an adequate blood flow to your baby. If there is a sudden drop in blood pressure, you may need to be treated with IV fluids, medications, and oxygen.
2. You may experience a severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid.
3. After your epidural is placed, you will need to alternate sides while lying in bed and have continuous monitoring for changes in fetal heart rate. Lying in one position can sometimes cause labor to slow down or stop.
4. You might experience the following side effects: shivering, ringing of the ears, backache, soreness where the needle is inserted, nausea, or difficulty urinating.
5. You might find that your epidural makes pushing more difficult and additional medications or interventions may be needed such forceps or cesarean.
6. For a few hours after the birth the lower half of your body may feel numb. Numbness will require you to walk with assistance.
7. In rare instances, permanent nerve damage may result in the area where the catheter was inserted.
8. Though research is somewhat ambiguous, most studies suggest that some babies will have trouble “latching on” causing breastfeeding difficulties.
9. Other studies suggest that a baby might experience respiratory depression, fetal malpositioning, and an increase in fetal heart rate variability, thus increasing the need for forceps, vacuum, cesarean deliveries.
Dr. Chudi Godsons
Citations , References & Photo Credit
● American Pregnancy Association
● Mayo Clinic
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