ZocdocAnswersDo epidural injections help reduce the pain of birth?

Question

Do epidural injections help reduce the pain of birth?

I would like to have as painless a birthing as possible. I'm 28 and am considering an epidural. This is supposed to reduce my pain. How does it work? How long will it last?

Answer

Congratulations on being pregnant! You should discuss these issues with your OB GYN doctor, as they will be able to help you decide what your best option is for dealing with the pain of giving birth. Epidural injections are one of several options for pain relief during labor. They involve placing medications into a space close to the spinal cord, allowing the medicine to seep into the spinal cord and provide an anesthetic effect. Often a small catheter is put into the space to provide for continuous infusion of the medicines. Epidural medication is best for use during the first part of labor before the baby actually begins to descend. It can also be helpful with the second part of labor, when the baby is actually coming out, although sometimes the medicine has to be turned off before this, because it can decrease your ability to push adequately. Epidural pain medications are relatively safe. In addition to the problem I mentioned about (decreasing your ability to push, meaning they have to be turned off), they can sometimes cause a fever. This can prompt your child's new pediatrician to worry about the possibility of an infection, leading to more investigation of your baby's health.

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