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  5. Did you have an epidural? Was the experience what you expected?

Did you have an epidural? Was the experience what you expected? Lock Rss

About 60% of women will ask for an epidural during the birth of their child. However there are a few things you should know before considering an epidural as part of your birth plan.

1. The effect is not instantaneous
Every woman is different but the effect can take between 30 - 60 minutes before you feel pain relief. The pre-epidural preparations include lab work, getting an IV, having at least a full litre of fluid infused, a consultation with the anesthetist, getting up to pee, signing paperwork and more.

2. It's best to wait until you really really need it before asking for it
The best time to get an epidural is when you feel you can't stand the pain anymore. If you get one too early into your labour, you won't be able to move around (which helps labour and pain relief) and may not be able to feel your legs.

3. Every woman's body is different
Some women feel numb pretty quickly or can't feel their legs for hours afterwards, others will require a couple of attempts before pain relief is achieved.

4. The epidural needle is big and you'll need an IV
You can't have an epidural without an IV. No way around that. It's how the medical team make sure your blood pressure doesn't plummet. Low blood pressure is a common side effect of epidurals—really low—like low enough to affect your baby. You will be given lots of IV fluids in advance. If you still bottom out, the doctor will give you drugs to bring your blood pressure back up. All of that happens through the IV. No IV, no epidural—no matter what your birth plan says.

5. You may experience severe headaches for up to a year after having an epidural
Called a post-dural puncture headache, this is experienced in approx 1 in 500 people. An epidural or spinal injection may cause a small leakage of fluid, which is not dangerous. But if too much fluid leaks out through the hole in the dura, the pressure of the rest of the fluid around the brain is reduced. This causes a typical headache, which is called a post-dural puncture headache. If you sit up, the pressure around your brain is reduced even more. This lowered pressure makes the headache worse. Talk to your Doctor if you are concerned.

Did you have an epidural? How was it for you?
I had one and it was fantastic. I am planning on getting another with my second baby this year.
I waited until I was well into labour and the pain was severe and it only took around 15 minutes to kick in.
The anesthetist put it in so quickly and I didn't feel it go in at all. I was very nervous about getting it and was clenching the end of the bed preparing for the pain when he said "it's all done".
Once out of pain, I could just lie in bed and relax and even take a nap. I even got to top it up myself if needed (which I did a little too much and the cranky midwife took it off me, lol) and felt no pain at all when pushing my son out. I didn't get any headaches afterwards. I had a good experience with mine.
A lot of people bag out epidurals but I think they are fantastic. You get pain relief with any other medical procedure. Why not when you push a human being out of you?

I got an epidural without hesitation and would TOTALLY recommend it. I had been in labour for 3 hours already when I got to the hospital, at which time the epidural was a nice assistance as I was exhausted. It kicked in after about 10 minutes, was explained fully by the awesome anaesthetist and I could top it up if needed. No headaches after, or numbness. My blood pressure dropped for the day following birth, but I was well looked after. Baby was happy and less distressed because I calmed down. Go for it!
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