Epidural anaesthesia is a procedure in which a very thin catheter is placed in the lower part of your back and a pain killer is injected through it. This medicine only blocks the sensation of nerves that cause pain during labour i.e. in the lower part of the body. There is pain relief without any other effect.
What are the types of epidural Anaesthesia?
Combined Spinal –Epidural (CSE) or “Walking Anaesthesia”
Epidural anaesthesia is given by an anaesthetist. It is given in the active phase of labour. There is hardly any pain during the insertion.
You are made to lie on your side or made to sit up. After which the part is cleaned with an antiseptic. A nurse will assist you in making the correct posture and you are asked to be still for some time. Firstly a local anaethetic agent (to numb your skin) is infiltrated and then a needle prick is made in the spine. . After this a very thin tube is placed and the needle is withdrawn completely. The tube is kept in place with the help of a tape. It is through this tube that the medicine is injected from time to time within the limits of safety for you and your baby the drugs are adjusted according to the patient’s needs.
What happens after the Procedure?
After the procedure you will be able to move around but you have to be careful not to slide in bed in order to avoid pulling the catheter out. After epidural anaesthesia the pain decreases and labour becomes bearable and easy to manage.It will prevent you from getting exhausted and help you to cope up with labour. At the last stage of labour some pressure is felt in the rectum as we cannot make you totally numb because you need to know where and when to push at the end of labour.
Tingling sensation/numbness /heaviness of legs
A little fall in blood pressure
Headache (due to accidental leakage of spinal fluid)
Difficulty in passing urine
Slight rise in temperature
Abnormal sensations in the legs and minor neurological problems.(rare)
There is no evidence that epidural anaesthesia increases the chances of cesearean delivery.
Majority of them are minor and manageable side effects.
Who cannot have Epidural Anaesthesia?
Patients who cannot have epidural anaesthesia are the ones who have blood clotting problems, neurological problems, certain types of lower back surgeries.
It is not mandatory to have epidural anaesthesia. Some patients are able to tolerate the labour pains. Others may do well with mild painkillers give as drips. At the end it is the choice is of the patient!