Labour pain relief – E is for Epidural

Epidural – the king of pain relief in labour?

For some women a positive pregnancy test, whilst immensely exciting, also gives rise to feelings of dread. How will they manage in labour? Epidural is one option for labour pain relief.

A combination of analgesic and opioid, epidural is delivered directly into the epidural space in the spinal column to offer complete pain management during labour or a caesarean section. Epidural is generally safe for mother and baby and can be highly effective.

Considerations for use of epidural for labour pain relief are:

1) partial pain relief only for 15% of users

2) delay in the second stage (pushing/bearing down)

3) possible increased need for assisted or caesarean birth (although research is mixed on this)

4) need for catheter and IV fluids

5) lack of mobility during and after birth

6) headache, vomiting, tingling sensations

7) very small risk of paralysis

Whether or not you choose epidural will depend on your birth preferences and how you react to labour pain/contractions. The length of your labour is also a factor.

Epidurals are not available in birth centre or home birth settings and you may have to wait for an anesthetist to be available to administer it.

See our other options for pain relief

A is for Acupuncture

B is for Bath

C is for Counting

D is for Doula