Epidurals can be great pain relievers during labor and delivery but are some downsides that pregnant moms should know about.
I have had three epidurals. Each one was different. Different side effects, different levels of pain, different everything. I didn't know what to expect each time I went into labor.
The third time that I gave birth, I thought I knew what was going to happen. Boy, was I wrong! Yet another different outcome.
The one thing that giving birth has taught me is this: don't expect anything. Keep an open mind, because chances are, it's not going to go how you planned.
Epidurals are one of the things you need to keep an open mind about. There are many details about the process and each one of them can mean a different outcome for you, as far as your pain relief, and how your delivery will go. My advice is to research and educate yourself about them.
If you have high blood pressure during labor, an epidural can help lower it.
I personally had this happen during the birth of my twins. It actually lowered my blood pressure too low and I had to have IV meds to stabilize it.
You may not feel the urge to push.
Epidurals wipe out your pain from your belly down. Although you can sometimes control the strength of the epidural, many cannot. I didn't have an option every time I was in labor.
My first epidural was so strong that I did not feel a single contraction, much less an urge to push. I had to be coached through each contraction because I didn't feel anything.
You will be confined to your bed the rest of your labor and delivery, and sometimes up to 2 hours after.
After having an epidural, you and your babies must be monitored constantly. That means you cannot leave your bed. Even though you should be able to physically move your toes and your legs, you will not be able to get up and walk around.
It's important to think about at what point during your labor that you want to get your epidural. Depending on how strong your epidural is and when you got it, you may still be immobilized after you have your baby. You have to wait until after the epidural wears off to try to walk, or even stand.
Some moms might not be able to get an epidural.
If you are allergic to local anesthetics, if you have back problems, or if you have spina bifida or other neurological problems, you may not have the option to get an epidural. It's important to talk with your doctor well ahead of time about pain management during labor if you have any of these conditions.
An epidural is not just for labor and delivery
Patients often get them for chronic back pain, which are called mobile epidurals. They also use epidural for other types of surgery, like knee surgery and hip replacement surgery. And as you may know already, c-sections are one of the surgeries that usually use epidurals.
The best thing you can do in preparation for the birth of your babies is to read, read, read. There is no amount of knowledge that is bad for you, and knowing about possible complications or set backs can relive anxiety if you run into one of them.
I did not prepare at all with my first delivery because I was terrified. I didn't want to read because it all scared me so bad! I could've helped some things that I went through if I had done some research before I had my baby.
Epidurals can be an awesome thing, because they can help you relax and preserve energy, but it can also be difficult and come with complications. Talk to your doctor about them and make sure you get your questions answered! Come the big day, you'll be well prepared and you'll know what to expect, rather than expecting one perfect scenario.
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Brittany Suter is a stay at home mother of four, including a set of fraternal twins. She is a blogger dedicated to helping new moms make the most of their pregnancies and enjoy the early days with their newborns.
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