What is Epidural Analgesia or Painless Labour?
This is a procedure where an anaesthetist passes a fine catheter into your epidural space in the back and measured doses of drugs are administered through this to reduce the pain of labour contractions. It is usually passed when you are about 3 cm dilated and removed after the episiotomy has been sutured.
The Pros of Epidural:
- Labour Pain Relief.
- Allows time for rest.
- Reduces hyperventilation.
- Great for PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension)
- Great for C-sections.
- Appreciated by husbands and families.
- May enhance ‘push-ability’
- Possible headache (with dura puncture)
- Possible back ache.
- Possible hypotension (requires IV fluids)
- Confines mother to bed so minimizes gravitational effect.
- May increase need for Pitocin (especially first pregnancy)
- May increase need for vacuum/forceps extraction.
- Increased incidence of C Section (if given too soon and with first baby)
- Block may be ‘one-sided’ or blotchy.
- May cause an elevation in mother’s temperature.
- May hamper ‘push-ability’.
- May delay babies early ‘latch-on’ ability to breast feed.
- May cause septic meningitis.
- Cost- An epidural increases the total cost of your delivery.
When can you NOT have an epidural?
- Bleeding disorder or on anticoagulants.
- Infection in area of Epidural Injection.
- Patient refusal.