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Getting a pregnancy epidural

An epidural is a type of anesthesia given to decrease pain during childbirth. Unlike general anesthesia, an epidural allows you to be awake and alert during your labor and delivery. Some women choose to have an epidural for a vaginal delivery, while other times it might be required, such as to facilitate a C-section.

Women who choose a natural childbirth forgo an epidural and use alternative labor pain relief methods. Whatever your preference, the obstetrics and maternity services team at Dignity Health offers personal care during labor and delivery, so you can have a happy, healthy childbirth.

Find a Doctor near you for comprehensive childbirth services and discuss having an epidural with your provider.


Common reasons for an epidural during labor

Epidurals aren’t only used for pain management. Your doctor may recommend an epidural during labor to help you rest. Labor can be a lengthy experience that drains your energy. An epidural will promote rest so you have energy for pushing during the delivery phase.


What to expect: getting an epidural

The procedure begins with cleaning the injection site. Then, you’ll arch your back while sitting down or lying on your side. A skilled anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will gently perform the epidural injection. Numbing medication will flow through a catheter into the space surrounding your spinal cord. 

An epidural offers pain relief within just a few minutes. Your care team will monitor your pain level to make sure the epidural works properly.

There are some risks with an epidural, such as a sudden drop in blood pressure. Your doctor will tell you about the risks and ways to lower or prevent them before the procedure. 

Dignity Health offers childbirth options that include an epidural in Bakersfield, Merced, and Stockton, CA.

Learn more about the Lauren Small Children's Center

Lauren's Story

The Lauren Small Children's center is named after Lauren Paige Small, a Bakersfield girl who inspired the community through her brave two-year battle with cancer.

Read Lauren's story