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Pros and Cons of Epidural

Women have endured the pain of childbirth and have been looking for ways to relieve it for hundreds of years. The dream of millions of women has become a reality because childbirth without pain is not a fantasy. This is possible thanks to epidural anesthesia. Women have a choice – to endure pain or choose pain relief.

Epidural anesthesia is considered one of the most popular and effective methods of labor pain relief. An anesthetic is injected into the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord. Signal transmission in the nerves of the spinal cord is blocked due to this. The woman remains conscious but feels no pain.

When is an epidural needed?

Epidural anesthesia allows a woman to focus on meeting the baby and not on pain. She will have only positive memories of the process of having a baby thanks to this.

The desire of a woman in labor to reduce the level of pain is a weighty argument for epidural anesthesia, according to experts from the American Academy of Family Medicine. You can use this type of anesthesia if there are no contraindications.

Low pain threshold – A woman needs epidural anesthesia if menstruation was accompanied by severe pain, she had to take pills. The woman in labor feels better thanks to anesthesia and participates in the process: she breathes and strains during contractions. The child passes through the birth canal as nature intended.

Preeclampsiais a deep disorder of the functions of the vital organs and systems of the expectant mother. This condition is harmful to the woman and the child. A woman in labor is given drugs that do not allow pressure to rise and facilitate childbirth. The use of epidural anesthesia helps to significantly reduce the risk of C-sections.

Pathology of the cervix Vaginal delivery is possible in this case, but the process of opening the uterus is more complicated. The rate of cervical dilatation is significantly accelerated as a result of relaxation after anesthesia.

Stimulation of labor by oxytocin – A woman is injected with synthetic hormones that cause severe pain when labor is induced. It may be stronger than during natural childbirth. The introduction of anesthesia allows you to get rid of the pain.

Benefits of epidural anesthesia

Choosing anesthesia or not is a very individual question. There are some side effects, but anesthetics can relieve the pain. Every woman has a different pain threshold. In some women, blood pressure may increase, the pulse speed up, and labor will become weaker due to prolonged severe pain. All this negatively affects the baby. It is better to choose anesthesia in this case.

There are pros and cons of epidural, just like any other medical procedure. A pregnant woman needs to know about this method of pain relief to make the right decision if necessary. You can consult with an obstetrician-gynecologist and an anesthesiologist with extensive experience in this field. You should also hear the reviews of women who gave birth under epidural anesthesia.

Opportunity to participate in the process

Epidural anesthesia temporarily blocks the sensitivity of the lower body of the woman in labor. The woman does not experience pain during contractions but is fully conscious. She can follow the doctor’s instructions and communicate calmly with her husband.

Epidural anesthesia is used during vaginal delivery and C-section. A woman does not feel pain, she can see the baby, and hear his first cry.

Less pain, more comfortable delivery

The anesthetic is administered at the start of contractions. It relieves pain but does not affect motor function. The woman can walk. She can feel when the contractions start and end. Anesthesia does not affect the brain and consciousness of the woman in labor.

The action of the anesthetic is completed by the time of attempts. It is important that a woman at this stage listen to the body and correctly strain the necessary muscles to push the baby out.

Opportunity to relax and gain strength

Childbirth is a long process that requires strength and endurance. Often the only desire of a woman is that everything ends as soon as possible. Especially in the case of protracted childbirth. The joyful and long-awaited moment of meeting with the baby due to fatigue, irritation, and exhaustion may not please a woman at all.

The ability to rest is a significant advantage of epidural anesthesia during childbirth. This is especially true if contractions occur for a long time. The woman remains active thanks to epidural anesthesia. The woman will have a positive impression of childbirth because there is no pain and discomfort.

Reducing the period of dilatation of the cervix

Epidural anesthesia speeds up the process of childbirth: the uterus opens faster, and this shortens the first stage of labor. A protracted period of contractions is considered one of the indications for the use of epidural anesthesia. The woman relaxes after anesthesia and the cervix opens sooner.

Epidural anesthesia has a positive effect during the second stage of labor. The anesthetic helps relieve spasms of the pelvic floor muscles as the baby moves through the birth canal. The baby moves more smoothly and softly.

Safe for the child

Safety for the health of mother and child is the secret to the popularity of epidural anesthesia. The drugs that are used for pain relief do not harm the child because a small amount of anesthetic enters the bloodstream of the fetus. Studies have shown that epidural anesthesia has a normalizing effect on the baby’s metabolism.

The effect of epidural anesthesia on newborns depends on the dose of drugs, the duration of labor, and the health of the baby.

What are the side effects of epidural?

There may be post-puncture headaches and hematoma within the epidural space after the administration of epidural anesthesia. Headaches can last two to three days. A sharp decrease in pressure immediately after the introduction of an anesthetic provokes weakness and nausea. An important role is played by the individual characteristics of the woman’s body.

An individual reaction of the body to anesthetics is possible. A woman in labor needs to tell the doctor if she has an allergy to medications. May in some cases be dry skin, drowsiness, chills, or fever. It very rarely happens that the anesthetic gets into the vessel or the cerebrospinal fluid. This can happen if the catheter is placed incorrectly or misaligned.

Such complications occur very rarely because a test dose is administered before the start and the reaction of the body is monitored. The main dose of anesthetic is administered only after the doctor has seen that there is no allergic reaction.

Features of the introduction of the epidural

Some rules should be followed when administering epidural anesthesia. The anesthetic is administered when the opening of the cervix has begun and regular contractions have been established. The principle of its action is simple: a local anesthetic blocks the nerve fibers responsible for pain. The process of childbirth becomes less painful for the mother.

The anesthesiologist inserts a thin catheter into the epidural space in the lower back. It’s a small plastic tube. There are nerves responsible for the sensitivity of the pelvic organs. The patient is asked to sit up and arch her back or lie on her side with her legs tucked up.

The doctor takes the needle and fixes the catheter on the back of the woman. It comes with an anesthetic. It prevents pain impulses from reaching the brain. The woman is not in pain but remains conscious. The patient may experience some discomfort while the catheter is being inserted.

Who Shouldn’t Have an Epidural

Epidural anesthesia is not recommended for use at elevated body temperature, or inflammatory processes in the area of ​​catheter insertion. This method of anesthesia should not be used if the woman has a full dilation of the cervix and she is ready to give birth. Epidural anesthesia is not used if a woman is allergic to certain anesthetics, in violation of blood clotting processes, and with significant spinal deformities.

Doctors choose general anesthesia over epidural anesthesia if an emergency C-section is required. A contraindication to epidural anesthesia is an infectious skin lesion or a tattoo at the intended puncture site.

It is important to follow the instructions of the anesthesiologist to avoid unwanted consequences. The woman in labor must be in a certain position at the time of the puncture. In no case should you make sudden movements.

The impact of the epidural on the child

Only a small amount of anesthetic is absorbed into the mother’s blood, and it does not penetrate the placental barrier. Epidural anesthesia does not harm mother and child.

The psychological aspect is also important. A woman releases endorphins during natural childbirth. They penetrate the fetoplacental barrier and the baby receives them. Thanks to this, the baby does not have a headache when moving through the birth canal and he tolerates the birth process well.

Thousands of women got rid of the fear of childbirth thanks to the availability and effectiveness of epidural anesthesia. The expectant mother needs to carefully weigh the pros and cons of epidural and consult with experts in this field!

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