January 29, 2019
By Ashleigh Beaver
Epidurals are the most common form of pain medication used during labor. According to the CDC, approximately 61% of women get an epidural during labor in the US.
One of the most popular questions that we get as doulas is the curiosity surrounding epidurals. Are they worth it? Do they always work properly? Should I get one? Let me start out by saying everyone is different and has had a different experience with an epidural. No two stories are the same. I personally chose to have an epidural with both of my babies and I had very different experiences each time.
With my son a labored medicine free for twelve hours and then chose to get an epidural. I was able to get some relief from the pain and rest for a bit while waiting to push. I had a control button that I could push when I wanted more. I could still feel my legs and the contractions just enough to be able to push and I liked that…I did not want to be completely numb. This is called Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia.
With my daughter I had a completely different experience. The epidural made me itch so I was unable to fully relax. If I had known I would have only had a three hour labor I would have opted out of getting a epidural.
Here are a few things that you can expect if you choose to get one:
Epidurals, spinals, and CSEs (Combined Spinal Epidurals) all carry pretty much the similar benefits and similar side effects. The main benefit of an epidural during labor is that it is considered the most effective form of pain relief.
The bottom line is that epidurals, spinals, and combined spinal epidurals during labor are very effective ways to help manage pain. However, they do carry potential risks and side effects for the mother and the baby.-Evidence Based Birth
Remember that an epidural is just another tool. You don’t have to go in knowing if you do or don’t want one. You can always change your mind!