Getting An Epidural: Five Facts You Might Not Know
To start, there is no one correct way to approach labour. A birth plan is personal and for many families, can take time to figure out. As you're exploring options, epidurals become a common and important topic to address in preparation for delivery and birth. We encourage you to gather information and have discussions with those you want to have in the room with you, so that way you feel supported throughout your birth experience.
Listed below are five facts that you may not know unless you've spoken with someone that has received an epidural during labour. This isn't meant to focus on technical aspects and definitely not meant to sway your decision. At Malou Motherhood we're all about being open, and honest, and it's not always easy to find someone who will give you their honest opinion and thoughts on childbirth. Below, you'll find some personal reflections and insight into what you can expect with an epidural.
Whichever type of delivery journey you take, know that you are strong and literally giving birth to a miracle!
1. Don't look at it if you're scared of needles
Okay, I'm not going to lie. It's a HUGE needle...and it arrives on its own large cart with other tools required for the process. But don't be alarmed, the anesthesiologist who provides the epidural is highly trained and knows what they're doing.
Honestly, by the time I saw them rolling in with their equipment I was so exhausted from the pain of contractions. My husband and nurse helped keep me calm and reassured me that it wasn't going to be as scary as it looked.
2. Getting injected doesn't hurt
The anesthesiologist will apply cold numbing cream or spray so you don't feel the needle actually being injected into your back. The hardest part is honestly staying calm and still during the procedure. In my experience, receiving an epidural was actually a series of three injections, which could only be done in between contractions.
3. It can help you relax and/or rest during a long labour
Between painful contractions, constant measuring of those contractions and the nervous excitement of meeting your little one...you will most likely not get a lot of rest or sleep during labour. With my first child, I was in labour for over 27 hours and the only time I got to rest (a 3 hour nap), was right after I had received an epidural. Without the pain, I was able to relax and recharge prior to moving to the second/pushing stage.
4. It may not get rid of all the pain
Ahhhh sorry to break it to you, but there are various sources of pain during labour. An epidural can help tremendously with alleviating pain related to contractions. In the case with my daughter, she changed placement during labour and because of that, I experienced back labour pain that the epidural couldn't help. When something like this happens, you can talk to your doctor about other pain relief methods to help.
5. You will be guided through the second/pushing stage of labour
Because the epidural provides pain relief, this means you will feel contractions differently. It will feel more like a tolerable amount of pressure in your abdomen that moves toward your pelvic area. The nurse and doctor will assess when your body is ready for the second/pushing stage and will help coach you through pushing. I found that the most important thing to do during this stage was to try to stay calm and relaxed to focus on pushing.