What Is an Epidural In Pregnancy?

What Is an Epidural In Pregnancy?
0 9 September 2021
What Is an Epidural In Pregnancy?

Labour can be very painful, unbearable even, for some mothers. So, if you are thinking of getting an epidural to help you cope with the intense pain, then you are not alone. Observations have shown that more than 60% of women delivering in hospitals opt for an epidural during labour and delivery.

Understanding the concept of Epidural?

An epidural is an anaesthetic that numbs the body making it unable to feel any sort of sensation or pain.

How Does It Work?

This anaesthetic is injected into the space around the spinal nerves called the epidural space in your lower back by an anesthesiologist via a catheter. The process of numbing begins within 10 to 30 minutes.

The catheter remains in the epidural space during labour and delivery to continually provide the medication when needed.

Epidurals eliminate the pain from labour contractions as well as during birth quite effectively. Therefore, with this anaesthetic, birthing is made less painful.

Types Of Epidurals

While experiencing labour pains, you may be offered different types of epidurals. You must know which type you prefer.

  1. Epidural Block

This type of epidural is an amalgamation of analgesics along with anaesthetics. It is considered to be common which usually surfaces during childbirth. The block is injected through a catheter present in the lower back region and the mother soon gets relief from the pain while being alert at the same time. This allows the mother to exert pressure and push harder when there is a need for it.

  1. Spinal Block

The block is injected into the spinal cord which holds the fluid. It begins to take action quickly and lasts for around 60 minutes or so. This type of anaesthetic is given usually at the time of C-section deliveries.

  1. Combined Spinal-epidural [CSE]

As the name suggests, a CSE is a combination of both the epidural and the spinal block and offers pain relief for as long as one requires.

The Pros And Cons Of Epidural During Pregnancy

Pros: Considered as the safest method of controlling pain

  • It relieves you from intense pain.
  • It gives you rest.
  • It keeps you alert and aware of the birthing process.
  • It is effective for long surgical procedures such as C-sections.
  • The drugs injected remain in the epidural space and do not enter the bloodstream. This means that it does not reach your baby.


  • It may cause sudden low blood pressure.
  • It can make pushing more difficult leading to the intervention of forceps, vacuum, or C-section.
  • It may increase the possibility of perineal tear.
  • It might slow down the second stage of labour.
  • You may experience some side effects such as nausea, shivering, fever, and itchiness.
  • The epidural space where the catheter is inserted may begin to feel sore leading to back pains.

You must discuss labour pains and ways to manage them with a pregnancy specialist doctor or midwife before rushing into getting epidurals.

Dr Neelima Mantri is the best gynaecologist in Mumbai for high-risk pregnancies with over a decade of experience in gynaecology and obstetrics. With the title of the best doctor for pregnancy, she has dealt with many challenging cases regarding her field of expertise and has outshined these challenges with confidence and success making her the ideal pregnancy doctor in India.