Pain relief during labor. Epidural anesthesia

The fear of severe pain during childbirth haunts every woman preparing to become a mother. Although, in fact, pain during childbirth is far from being pronounced for all women in labor, and memories of them are blocked in the subconscious of a young mother during the first few days after the birth of the baby.

However, modern medicine offers an excellent solution for those women who are panicky afraid of pain during labor and childbirth. This is epidural anesthesia or, in simple terms, labor pain relief , which allows you to make the course of labor comfortable for the woman in labor and safe for the baby. This method is quite widespread today, it is applied everywhere, for a long time and successfully. 

Summary of Epidural Technique

Labor is relieved by inserting a thin plastic tube (epidural catheter) into the woman’s lower back, called the epidural space, which runs along the spine. The anesthesiologist injects into this space a special drug (anesthetic or narcotic analgesic), which locally blocks all pain sensations.

The action of anesthesia extends at the level of the spinal cord, therefore, it does not have any negative effect either on the body of the woman in labor or on the condition of the fetus. In dependence on the dose administered medication pain eliminated either completely or partially. In the first case, the woman retains the ability to feel the contractions of the uterus, but does not experience unpleasant sensations, in the second case, any painful sensations are stopped completely.

The very procedure for installing an epidural catheter and injecting anesthetic takes plus / minus 10 minutes. A noticeable decrease in pain sensations occurs approximately 15 minutes after the manipulation of labor pain relief. The catheter remains in the woman’s body until the end of labor, after which it is immediately removed.

Indications for labor pain relief

In some clinics, a service is practiced when for the procedure of epidural anesthesia of childbirth, only one desire and consent of the woman is enough. In other maternity hospitals, labor pain relief is carried out only when the painful sensations of the woman in labor are pronounced and deliver her unbearable torment.  

Likewise, there is no consensus regarding the initiation of anesthesia during childbirth. In some perinatal centers, anesthesia is carried out immediately, already at the first contractions of the uterus. At the same time, the painful sensations of the woman in labor are blocked at the initial stage, and the whole further process is easy and painless for her. In other clinics, epidural anesthesia is prescribed only if doctors are fully confident in the adequacy and normal course of labor, and if the cervix has opened at least 3-5 cm.With this scenario, the woman in labor still has to endure pain during labor.

Contraindications to the implementation of epidural anesthesia may be factors such as blood clotting disorders, infection in the epidural space, low platelet count in the mother’s blood, weak labor, large fetus, narrow pelvis and other physiological features.

Benefits of labor pain relief

First of all, labor pain relief allows you to achieve a positive psycho-emotional state of the woman in labor, eliminating all her fears and phobias regarding unbearable pain during childbirth. At the same time, there is no negative impact on the nervous system and the work of the woman’s brain, as well as on the condition of the child.  

Epidural anesthesia accelerates the entire process in those cases when stress, severe pain, nervousness and excessive excitement of the woman in labor become the cause of inhibition of labor.

Medicines used for pain relief during labor can partially lower blood pressure levels, which plays an important role for those women who have had arterial hypertension during pregnancy.

Along with the positive aspects, the use of epidural anesthesia has a number of negative aspects, side reactions and negative consequences. Therefore, before deciding on the procedure for pain relief during labor, you need to consult with the gynecologist who monitors the pregnancy, and with the doctors of the maternity hospital who will take over your childbirth.

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