The epidural, anaesthesia to deliver painlessly

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The epidural, anaesthesia to deliver painlessly

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Epidural analgesia effectively combats the pain of childbirth. This local anaesthesia remains controversial. Five questions to take stock.





  1. Is epidural painful?
  2. Can I request the epidural when I want?
  3. Can all pregnant women benefit from an epidural?
  4. With the epidural, are there any dangers for the mother and the baby?
  5. Will I feel my baby if I choose an epidural?

The epidural is an analgesic that numbs the entire lower part of the body, the one that suffers on the day of childbirth. It is used for vaginal or cesarean delivery. More than 85% of women who give birth.

More concretely, it is to put to sleep what is called “the epidural space”. The product is injected between two lumbar vertebrae so that it spreads through the nerves around the spinal cord. This step is carried out using a catheter (flexible and thin tube) which remains in place for possible reinjection.

1. Is epidural painful?

Do not worry, the puncture and the placement of the catheter are not very painful, you will have been given local anaesthesia of the skin beforehand.

Women are often afraid of feeling the needle of the epidural which is impressive, it measures eight centimetres. The timing of the injection can be unpleasant, but the pain does not last long.

2. Can I request the epidural when I want?

First, you have a choice. You can refuse the epidural when you arrive at the maternity unit and change your mind during labour if the pain of the contractions is too intense.

Be aware, however, that the anaesthetist may not be available immediately and that your dilation must be, except in special cases, within 6 to 8 centimetres for the epidural to be effective.

Hence the importance of talking about it both with the anesthesiologist you will meet in the last month of your pregnancy and with the midwife.

3. Can all pregnant women benefit from an epidural?

Consultation with the anesthesiologist is compulsory before the end of your pregnancy. It will help to know if there are any contraindications to an epidural or general anaesthesia.

Contraindications to epidural: anaesthesia may not be feasible in case of poor blood clotting, allergy to local anaesthetics, infections, anatomical difficulty in the spine or fever on the day of delivery.

4. With the epidural, are there any dangers for the mother and the baby?

The epidural is a common and common local anaesthesia. Your baby is not at risk because the product spreads little in the maternal blood, therefore in the fetal blood

The future mother may suffer from side effects such as headaches, dizziness, tremors, some kind of electric shock in the legs. But these disorders disappear very quickly.

5. Will I feel my baby if I choose an epidural?

The analgesic technique of the epidural is controversial: it depends on women. Some will tell you that you must not refuse it because they experienced a painless birth. Others will be against the epidural because they felt no sensation when they pushed and it was unpleasant for them. Finally, others have only been numbed on one side.

All the art is in the dosage of the agents constituting the epidural. Anaesthetists manage to ease the pain of contractions without suppressing the sensations. You then feel your baby go down without feeling intense pain. This is the best of times.

To achieve this result, there are now two new methods:


  • Self-Controlled Epidural (PCEA): Women self-administer the desired doses at the push of a button. Don't worry there are safeguards to avoid any risk of overdose;


  • ambulatory epidural: this technique is developing more and more. It allows the expectant mother to continue walking during labour without having to lie down.

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