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Pregnancy 101: Epidurals

12 November 2014

When it comes to an epidural, some women love it, some women hate it. In fact, there is almost no other issue that can divide women quite as quickly as the issue of labour and pain management.

When creating your birthing plan, especially for the first time, it can be so confusing to figure out how you want to bring your little one into the world, and to add to the confusion, everyone from your midwife to your mother-in-law seems to put their 2 cents in!  Regardless of your personal opinions or the opinions of others, every expectant mother should research all their options so they can make an informed choice that will suit their needs and wishes.

While there are a lot of different pain management options for women giving birth, an epidural is by far the most well known and one of the most commonly used. In the simplest terms, an epidural is a fine tube inserted into lower spine, allowing a combination of drugs to enter that area. An epidural used for child birth commonly features local anaesthetic and analgesic properties, helping to numb the area, minimise pain and relax the surrounding muscles including those of the pelvis. There are a number of ways an epidural can be administered from one injection to a constant infusion.

The main positive of an epidural is of course, pain management. Giving birth is a painful experience and using an epidural is often the closest you can get to painfree. Some other positives are that minimising the pain may help maintain energy levels, especially through a long labour, and it may also help keep the expectant mother calm and relaxed, which can help make labour a more comfortable experience for all involved.

Some negatives associated with using an epidural are a less effective pushing ability and an increased chance of vaginal tearing, fever, low blood pressure and a longer labour. Depending on the circumstances there may also be an increased risk of needing an emergency C-section.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your friends or your mother says; you need to choose the labour plan that is going to make you, your partner and your little one feel the most comfortable. Epidural or no epidural, the most important thing is the health of mum and bub so please keep that in mind when deciding on your birth plan.

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