What is an epidural?
An epidural is a type of regional analgesia to produce loss of sensation below the waist during childbirth. Painkilling drugs are passed through the small of your back through a very fine tube. It is done by inserting a needle first and then the tube in between the bones of the spine. The result is that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord. Accordingly, one's ability to feel pain is lost. Sleepiness does not usually accompany epidurals.
How safe are they?
All procedures, including the epidural, have the potential of doing harm. Epidurals are, however, among the safest analgesic procedures available for labour, delivery and c-section. They have been responsible for a significant fall in the frequency of anesthetic accidents during childbirth. They are also the most popular medicated technique used for pain relief for surgery today. Complications of significance are rare. However, we suggest that it is best to consult your doctor and discuss the pros and cons of it before delivery.
How long does it take for the epidural to take effect?
5 to 15 minutes, mostly, to be fully effective. In case, if you still aren't comfortable post 20 minutes, then notify the doctor.
How long does the effect last?
A single dose usually lasts between 2 to 3 hours.
How does one know when the epidural medication is wearing off?
Contractions shall resurface. Initially, they will be mild and will increase steadily. So when you start experiencing the mild pain, you can ask for another dose.