Using Epidural Anesthesia For Labor
Epidural anesthesia is the most popular and effective method of pain relief during labor. Women request an epidural by name more than any other method of pain relief. At Stony Brook, more than 70% of women giving birth utilize epidural anesthesia. Understanding the different types of epidurals, how they are administered, their benefits, and risks will help you in your decision-making during the course of labor and delivery.
What is epidural anesthesia?
Epidural anesthesia is considered a regional anesthesia that blocks pain in a particular region of the body. The goal of an epidural is to provide pain relief through a blocking of the nerve impulses from the lower spinal segments. This results in decreased sensation in the lower half of the body.
Epidural medications fall into a class of drugs called local anesthetics (examples include: bupivacaine, chloroprocaine, and lidocaine) and can be delivered in combination with narcotics (examples include: fentanyl and sufentanil) in order to decrease the required dose of local anesthetic.
How is an epidural administered?
Intravenous (IV) fluids will be administered prior to the epidural placement procedure. An anesthesiologist (specialist in administering anesthesia) will ask you about your medical history, examine you, and administer your epidural.
For placement of the epidural, you will be asked to arch your back and remain still while lying on your left side or sitting up. The positioning is vital for preventing problems and increasing the epidural effectiveness.
An antiseptic solution will be used to wipe the clean the surface of your mid-back to minimize the chance of infection. A small area on your back will be injected with a local anesthetic to numb it. A needle is then inserted into the numbed area surrounding the spinal cord in the lower back.
After that, a small tube or catheter is threaded through the needle into the epidural space. The needle is then removed, leaving the catheter in place to provide medication either through periodic injections or by continuous infusion. The catheter is taped to the back to prevent it from slipping out.
“Epidural Anesthesia: Safe, Effective Pain Relief During Labor”
From the Department of Anesthesiology at Stony Brook University Hospital
Published on Feb 12, 2018
This video is designed provide education about epidurals used for pain relief during labor. It answers some commonly asked questions about labor epidural catheters, what to expect during epidural catheter placement, benefits of epidural placement, and some potential complications. We hope this video enhances understanding of labor epidural anesthesia and alleviates the anxiety some patients have concerning epidurals as they prepare for their delivery day. The video was created by residents within the Stony Brook University School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology