For some women, epidurals are a life saver. In an induction or very long labor, an epidural can allow you to rest and save your energy for the delivery. There is no longer just one option in epidural anesthesia. Several options are available to laboring women. Ask your doctor or the anesthesiologist about your options before the big day.
The traditional epidural is a continuous dose of a combination of medications, generally an anesthetic and a narcotic. This is the most common type of epidural used. You are numbed from the waist down. It takes about twenty minutes to feel complete pain relief. The problem with this type of epidural is that it can lessen your ability to push the baby out. It also takes a while for these to wear off. It took several hours to regain feeling after my girls were born.
A variation on the traditional epidural is the patient controlled epidural. With this type, you get to control the dosage of the medication you receive. When you feel the need, you can increase the dose with a push of a button. These relieve some of the pain, but it isn’t complete relief. The good thing about this type is that they don’t interfere as much with your ability to push. Most women use less medication with this type.
The walking epidural is one of the newer options in epidural anesthesia. This type numbs only the nerves of the abdomen. You are not completely numb, as with the traditional epidural. You will still be able to move your legs. Most women like this type because you are more in control and not confined to bed. You will be able to get up and move around. Another benefit of this type is the pain relief is faster. This is because a smaller area of your body is being numbed. You will feel pain relief in a matter of a few minutes.
The spinal is a form of the epidural, but is only a single injection. The cathedar is not left in your spine, as with other forms of epidural anesthesia. The spinal is one shot that will wear off in a few hours. The pain relief effect doesn’t last as long as with other types.
If you plan to have an epidural, discuss the options available with your care giver prior to the birth of your baby. Labor is no time to try to have a discussion and make a rational decision. Communicating now is the key to finding the best method of anesthesia for your birth.