FAQ’s Obstetric anesthesia
What is an epidural? Many women choose a form of pain relief called an epidural for their labor and delivery. An epidural is a catheter that is placed into the anatomic location known as the epidural space that is between the bones in the lower part of the back. The catheter is very small and allows for delivery of pain medications specifically to the nerves that sense pain in the lower half of the body. The procedure takes place in your labor and delivery room. The catheter is connected to a small pump that continuously provides pain medication throughout labor and delivery.
Who is eligible to receive an epidural? Most women are able to receive an epidural as soon as they are evaluated to confirm that they are in active labor and have had the appropriate blood tests performed. There are instances when it may not be safe to place an epidural, including in women with hemorrhage or bleeding, those taking blood thinners, those with an inherited bleeding disorder and those with infection in the lower back.
What are the benefits of the epidural? The primary benefit of the epidural is excellent pain relief during labor and delivery. This is achieved by delivering small doses of medicine directly to the nerve roots that transmit the feeling of pain. This minimizes drug exposure to the baby. The epidural can also be used as anesthesia for a forceps delivery, caesarean delivery or episiotomy repair.
Who places the epidural catheter?
An anesthesiologist will place the epidural. You will be asked a series of questions to ensure that you are a candidate for an epidural. Please feel free to talk with your physician about any medical condition or specific concerns you have regarding the procedure.