Epidural Myths And Facts That Are Helpful To Know

An epidural is a really popular form of pain relief that is used during childbirth.

An epidural is a really popular form of pain relief that is used during childbirth. There are quite a few misconceptions surrounding the topic however, so we’ve done some research to share the important facts that might help you make your decision about availing of it. Knowledge is power when it comes to your birth plan and options.

1. It is a myth that an epidural will lead to an assisted birth requiring an episiotomy, forceps or vacuum delivery for example. It may increase your chances of requiring one due to the fact that you will experience some numbness from the waist down which could impact you feeling your body’s natural urge to push, but it is not a given at all.

2. It is true that the level of an epidural can be controlled after it has been administered. An epidural can work slightly differently from person to person but there is the option to have it at a lower or higher level. This is why many women do not experience complete numbness and can push their baby effectively.
3. It is a myth that the epidural will work the same for all women, however, it is very rare for a woman to experience no relief from it. In some cases due to the position (the baby’s position, mothers position or position of the actual epidural catheter) relief may be experienced on only one side but these things can usually be remedied.

4. The epidural procedure is not completely painless, however, many women do not remember or notice any pain. A woman is unlikely to feel the actual epidural catheter being inserted however she is likely to feel a pinch or bee sting sensation when the area is given an injection of local anaesthetic before the epidural is administered.

5. It is a myth that the epidural will harm your baby. It is considered to be very safe and the drug will not make your baby sleepy or drowsy when they are born.
6. It is a myth that the epidural can only be given at a certain stage of labour, however, many hospitals will have a framework whereby they suggest it after a certain point in labour and before another. This is to ensure that it is effective and to allow for the time it takes for it to be administered. There may be a wait of up to an hour for it to be administered as there are a number of steps that must be followed before it is given such as an IV, fluids and consent to the anaesthetist.

7. It is true that not all women can have the epidural. While the majority of women can request it there are certain conditions which do not allow for it. These include certain blood disorders and heart conditions.

8. It is true that epidurals can carry some risks and complications. Every measure and level of caution is taken to ensure it is administered safely but some of the rare side effects may include persistent headaches, a drop in blood pressure and nerve damage.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.


Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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