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An epidural (sometimes called an epidural block) is a regional anesthesia that relieves pain by blocking pain signals and decreasing sensation in the lower part of your body during labor and birth. Doctors often recommend epidurals because:
At Dignity Health of Arizona, we know you have many birthing options available to you. At our Family Birth Centers we are dedicated to providing a childbirth experience that meets your individual wants and needs. Learn more about our Birth Centers at:
To schedule a tour of one of our Birth Centers, or register for birthing classes near you, call 844.209.2058.
An anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will usually perform an epidural, which will only take 15 to 20 minutes, providing pain relief within a few minutes.
If you don’t already have an IV, a nurse will start one in your arm and begin administering fluids before the procedure begins. This will help prevent a drop in blood pressure. If you are not already hooked up to a fetal monitor — a machine that monitors your baby’s heart rate — a special monitoring belt will be secured around your belly.
You will be asked to sit on the side of your bed or lie on your side and arch your back. After cleaning your back with an antiseptic solution, the provider will inject a small amount of local anesthesia to numb the area. The provider will then insert a tiny needle and thread a thin tube (a catheter) into the epidural space near your spinal cord. The needle will then be removed, allowing for the flow of anesthesia and painkillers into the body through the catheter.
Your health care providers will check the effectiveness of your epidural by asking you to report your level of sensation and pain. Your blood pressure will be monitored frequently, and your care team will carefully monitor your baby’s well-being also.
Most women who have an epidural spend the remainder of their labor in bed. You will probably still be aware of your contractions, but they won’t feel painful. If your pain begins increasing, let your care providers know. Additional medication can be added as necessary.
The lower part of your baby may still feel numb for a few hours after birth.
You may feel some discomfort at the epidural site or in your lower back for a few days after birth. A small number of women (less than one percent) experience a serious headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid. Although it’s rare, an epidural can cause permanent nerve damage.
Dignity Health, specializing in birthing options to meet your specific needs, offers epidurals in Arizona.