To become a mother is a joy. A mother must undergo a lot throughout the nine months of pregnancy and then even more during the time of delivery. A lot of mothers go through a very difficult and painful time during delivery. First-time mothers are generally terrified about natural birth and how painful it would be. In earlier times there was only one way of delivering a baby, which was the natural way without any painkillers or any other kind of medication. However, there has been a lot of progress in medicine and procedures. There is a procedure/injection called epidural which has come up. In this article, Dr. Madhavi Reddy, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bangalore explains everything about painless normal delivery.
How an epidural works?
An epidural is an injection that is given in your lower back that temporarily blocks pain from the waist down. One will either be asked to lie on her side with knees tucked into the chest or to sit upright and lean forward. Leaning forward opens the space between the bones and the spine. There are 2 parts to the epidural. The first part is where the local anesthesia is injected into your skin to completely numb the area. Then comes the second part where a hollow epidural needle is given into your epidural space. When the epidural needle reaches the correct space, your doctor will then thread a very thin plastic tube through the center of the hollow needle. Then the needle will be removed leaving the tube in place. The tube will run from the inside of your epidural space to the outside of your body. The tube is used by your concerned doctor when you need pain relief.
However, every coin has two sides, and having an epidural has its pros and cons, so let us get right into it.
Pros of Painless Natural Delivery
- One of the most obvious benefits of having an epidural is that it eliminates labor pains for the most part. It can help women have a positive birth experience.
- A big pro is that an epidural has been proven to be safe for both the mother and the infant.
- Sometimes with other medication one might feel drowsy but having an epidural means that one is able to remain alert and present for the birth of her child. You will be aware of what is going on the whole time.
- This also brings an opportunity to the table for you and your partner to rest during the labor. It might prevent one from being irritated and even tired from all the pushing. This helps in reducing the chances of post-partum delivery complications.
- Lastly, in an emergency where a C-section might have to be done to keep the mother and baby safe an epidural will help pain management for that C-section.
Cons of Painless Natural Delivery
- A catheter may be placed in the bladder after an epidural because one does not have control over the bladder.
- The time of one’s labor might increase in comparison to a person who has not undergone an epidural. At times Pitocin might have to be given to induce labor and contractions.
- At times, the blood pressure might drop which means that at times oxygen might need to be provided and a close watch must be kept on the mother’s blood pressure.
- One is more likely to get a fever if they have got an epidural done. This is risky because they are not sure whether the spike in fever is because of an infection or just because of the epidural- that’s why antibiotics will have to be given as there is no way of knowing what caused the fever.
- Although the epidural does reduce the pain, the mother does not really know when to push and how hard to push as the whole area is numb. So effectively the mother is dependent on her support system and the doctors present.
- Once one gets an epidural they are bound to their bed because they do not have the best control on the lower part of their body.
Painless normal delivery is certainly a good option to reduce labour pain but this is not 100% safe. So, one should always weigh the risks and benefits before getting an epidural and see which way is right for her and must seek information from their gynaecologist.
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