When to Get an Epidural During Labor

When to Get an Epidural During Labor | Baby Chick

When to Get an Epidural During Labor

When thinking about your birth experience, you might be thinking about getting an epidural when you’re in labor. If you don’t know what an epidural is, an epidural delivers pain relief medication continuously to your lower body and blocks labor pain. The medicine goes through a catheter, which is a very thin and flexible tube. The catheter is inserted into the laboring mother’s epidural space in her lower back by an anesthesiologist.

epidural

Photo credit: WebMD.com

Epidurals are the most commonly used method of pain relief for labor in the United States. Many women plan on getting an epidural for pain management when they go into labor. Here are some benefits of getting an epidural (from the American Pregnancy Association).

Benefits:

  • It allows you to rest if your labor is lasting too long.
  • It helps reduce the discomforts of childbirth so women can have a more comfortable and positive birth experience.
  • If you deliver by cesarean, an epidural will allow you to stay awake to see your baby.
  • After a cesarean, an epidural will also provide effective pain relief during recovery.
  • If you tear during pushing, your epidural helps numb your perineum while your doctor is stitching.
  • When other types of coping techniques are no longer helping, an epidural can help you deal with exhaustion, irritability, and fatigue.
  • An epidural can allow you to rest, relax, get focused, and give you the strength to move forward in your birth experience.
  • The use of epidural anesthesia during childbirth is continually being refined and much of its success depends on the skill with which it is administered.

As like any intervention, epidurals also have risks. Here are some of the risks when getting an epidural (from the American Pregnancy Association).

Risks:

  • Epidurals may cause your blood pressure to drop. For this reason, your blood pressure will be routinely checked. This happens usually every 15 to 30 minutes. Your medical team wants to ensure that there is an adequate blood flow to your baby. If there is a sudden drop in blood pressure, you may need to be treated with IV fluids, medications, and oxygen.
  • You may experience a severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid. (Less than 1% of women experience this side effect.) If symptoms persist, a procedure called a “blood patch”, which is an injection of your blood into the epidural space, can be performed to relieve the headache.
  • After your epidural is placed, you will need to alternate sides while lying in bed. You will also have continuous fetal monitoring to check for changes in fetal heart rate.
    • Rotating sides ensures that your epidural medication is being evenly dispersed throughout your lower body. Due to gravity, if you lay on one side for too long the bottom side of your body will become very numb and heavy while the top side regains more feeling.
    • Lying in one position for too long can also potentially cause baby to get into an unfavorable pushing position (like posterior, also known as sunny-side up). Remaining in one position for too long can also sometimes cause labor to slow down or stop. This is why oftentimes epidurals come with Pitocin, the synthetic form of oxytocin that causes contractions.
  • You might experience the following side effects with an epidural: shivering/shaking, ringing of the ears, itching, backache, soreness where the needle is inserted, nausea, or difficulty urinating.
  • You could find that your epidural makes pushing more difficult. Because of this additional medications or interventions may be needed such as a vacuum, episiotomy, forceps or cesarean. Talk to your doctor when creating your birth plan about what interventions he or she generally uses in such cases. (You can also request for the epidural to be turned off when pushing. This allows you to feel more of where to push and how to push so that you can push more effectively. This can help you avoid other second stage interventions.)
  • For a few hours after the birth, the lower half of your body may feel numb. Numbness will require you to walk with assistance.
  • In rare instances, permanent nerve damage may result in the area where the catheter was inserted.
  • Though research is somewhat ambiguous, most studies suggest that some babies will have trouble “latching on” causing breastfeeding difficulties. Other studies suggest that a baby might experience respiratory depression, fetal malpositioning, and an increase in fetal heart rate variability, thus increasing the need for forceps, vacuum, cesarean deliveries and episiotomies.
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Alright, you now know some of the benefits and risks to having an epidural. If you have decided that you want an epidural during labor, the question is: When is the right time to get one in labor? Is there really a right time to get it? One doctor may say that it’s fine to get an epidural as soon as you get to the hospital. However, another may say that you need to be in active labor and at least 3, 4 or 5 centimeters dilated before they will call the anesthesiologist. So what’s the right answer? Honestly, both answers are correct. Here’s why:

Waiting to Get an Epidural

Having been to many, many hospital births and supporting women through all types of deliveries, I’ve noticed similar patterns and outcomes when women get epidurals too early. I’ve seen that it is beneficial to wait until you are in active labor and your cervix has dilated to at least 4 centimeters before you call for an epidural. At this point your body has established active labor. This means strong, continuous contractions.  Because of that it’s more likely for things to continue to progress. You are reducing your chances of needing more interventions as well as reducing your chances of a C-section. If you get an epidural too soon, it can potentially 1) slow your labor, 2) stop your labor all together if you don’t have Pitocin, and 3) it increases your chances of needing other interventions including a C-section.

1. Slows Your Labor

Ladies who have received an epidural before they had a strong, consistent labor pattern and minimal cervical dilation have experienced their labors slow down. This resulted in them needing Pitocin to help increase and strengthen their contractions. When your labor slows down, this prolongs your labor and your baby’s birth. This then leaves more time for potential problems to arise.

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2. Can Stop Your Labor

Some women who have gone to the hospital at the very beginning of their labor and received an epidural shortly after have experienced their contractions not only slow down but also come to a complete stop. In situations like this, sometimes even Pitocin can’t help the body get into a good labor pattern. Your receptors in your body might not respond to the Pitocin. The epidural is making your body slow down and relax and the Pitocin is telling your body to hurry up and have a baby. If this happens to you then your doctor might try to break your water (if your water has not already broken) to increase your contractions. The problem is, breaking your water is not always a reliable form of induction and doesn’t always cause more and stronger contractions.

3. Increases Your Chances of a C-Section

The earlier you receive an epidural, the higher your chances are that you will need more interventions and that it could possibly result in a C-section. If your body is not able to progress to get you to pushing, you will need cesarean birth.

Not Waiting to Get an Epidural

At the end of the day, this is your body, your baby, and your birth experience. You get to choose when you want an epidural. Your care provider might give you their opinion, but it’s ultimately your choice. And now that you know all of this information, you can make an informed decision. You have a better understanding of what is right for you. I recommend listening to your body and making the best choice for you whatever and whenever that is. This is why I say that whenever you decide to get an epidural–whether at the beginning of labor or later in labor–both options are right . . . because you have made the best decision for you.

READ MORE
This is Birth: A Documentary by Lisa Ling
About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

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And this is truer now than ever before. 📷 from And this is truer now than ever before.
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During pregnancy, your body is undergoing rapid changes to nourish the life growing inside of you. 💗 These changes can be exciting and welcomed in anticipation of meeting the newest member of your family. 🤗 However, after baby comes, we often forget, or just weren’t prepared, for the continued changes and discomforts of what is happening with your postpartum body. 😳 For years, these less than glamorous aspects of the “fourth trimester” were suppressed and not talked about openly. We can all be thankful that we live in an age where even the uncomfortable subjects can be talked about openly to help us all realize we aren’t alone.⁠ And that's exactly what we're doing today. Our resident OBGYN is talking about what exactly is happening to our postpartum bodies. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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As a teacher and mom, I can completely understand the panic I see from other moms who have been suddenly thrust into a teaching-from-home position due to the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent school closures. Moms around the country are scrambling to find a way to continue their child's education by implementing learning from home. But most aren't sure where to start!⁠
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Like many of you reading this, I have seen social media posts from (what I like to call) the moms-of-Pinterest to the moms-barely-keeping-it-together. 🙋‍♀️ I have seen families plan structured activities throughout each day and families play outside all day (in their own space, of course). Both are okay! There is really no right or wrong way to do this. But because of my background as a teacher and mom, I want to offer some encouragement and tips. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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📷: @chantellelournes⁠
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Velcro kids are the beeeeesssstttt . . . 🙈🙈🙈⁠ We're already stuck in this house together. It's called social distancing, kid. Give mama a little space. 😑😂⁠
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If they complain that everyone else is going out, If they complain that everyone else is going out, you tell them, “You’re not everyone.” How the tables have turned. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️⁠😂
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It’s hard to be a parent at times like these. It means lots and lots of cleaning, and being vigilant about killing germs on a daily basis. 🦠😷 During this season when many of us have our kids at home, too, it’s important to learn the best known strategies for how to clean your kids toys effectively. We have a mama, teacher, childcare provider, and school administrator on baby-chick.com today and she has seen and tried all different kinds of ways to keep toys and the objects children use most often clean and free of germs. It’s a struggle, but it’s worth it!⁠ 👍
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Even though COVID-19 is a novel virus, experts say that we can still use products that the Environmental Protection Agency lists as effective on killing similar viruses, like the rhinovirus or common cold. And when we halt the spread of germs in our own home, we are doing our part to keep our communities healthy, too.⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
📷: @inmomsitrust⁠
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Thankful that takeout is still available. 🙏 Thi Thankful that takeout is still available. 🙏 This is what self-care now looks like. 😂⁠
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#coronavirus #covid19 #selfcare #quarantine #quarantinelife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
No one’s at your party because it’s called soc No one’s at your party because it’s called social distancing, bro. That and no one cares. 🤷‍♀️ #quarantineday6 😂⁠
📷: @scarymommy⁠
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#coronavirus #covid19 #laundry #quarantine #quarantinelife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Cool 😒⁠ .⁠ #coronavirus #covid19 #nsync #qu Cool 😒⁠
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#coronavirus #covid19 #nsync #quarantine #quarantinelife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
❤️❤️❤️❤️⁠ Quote via @thismessygr ❤️❤️❤️❤️⁠
Quote via @thismessygrace 🙏
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#coronavirus #covid19 #quarantine #quarantinelife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Quarantine Day 5 . . . May your coffee be strong a Quarantine Day 5 . . . May your coffee be strong and your baby's nap be long. 🙏☕😴⁠
📷: @julieejacks⁠
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#coronavirus #covid19 #coffee #naptime #quarantine #quarantinelife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
😫😫😫⁠ .⁠ #coronavirus #covid19 #quaran 😫😫😫⁠
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#coronavirus #covid19 #quarantine #quarantinelife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
🏥 When is it Too Late to Change Your Doctor Dur 🏥 When is it Too Late to Change Your Doctor During Pregnancy? 👩‍⚕️⁠
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A major decision that you must make in your pregnancy is who is going to be your care provider to help you give birth to your baby. Are you going to go with your current OBGYN, are you going to look for a different OB, are you going to choose a midwife? Depending on where and how you want to give birth to your baby, this question and your options should become more clear. But if you're seeing some red flags pop up 🚩 with your current provider during your pregnancy, you might be wondering if it's too late to change your doctor.⁠ 😬 We're talking about it today on baby-chick.com! {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
📷: @mamamatcha_⁠
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#pregnancy #pregnant #pregnancytip #momtobe #pregnancylife #pregnancyguide #mamatobe #firstpregnancy #babybump #pregnancyjourney #bumpie #preggo #pregnancybasics #pregnancyhelp #maternity #motherhood #momlife #expecting #mumlife #mommytobe #pregnantlife #babyontheway #inspirepregnancy #mommychick #babychick
🎶 Sunny day ☀️ Sweeping the clouds away ☁ 🎶 Sunny day ☀️ Sweeping the clouds away ☁️⁠
🎶 On my way to where the air is at best, questionably clean 😷⁠
🎶 Can you tell me how to get, how to get a COVID-19 screen?⁠
🎶 Don’t come over to play, everyone’s social distancing today 🚫⁠
🎶 Sketchy neighbors can stay at least 6 feet away? 🚷⁠
🎶 Can you tell me how to get, how to get a COVID-19 screen?⁠
📷: @howtobeadad⁠
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#coronavirus #covid19 #sesamestreet #quarantine #quarantinelife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
It'll be interesting to see how all of this change It'll be interesting to see how all of this changes us in the future. But for now, we are uniting #togetherapart. We are healing and our hope is we will then be stronger than ever. ❤️⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #covid19 #coronavirus #momlife #motherhood #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #healing #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
🧘‍♀️ How to Reset Your Motherhood Mindset 🧘‍♀️ How to Reset Your Motherhood Mindset⁠ 😊⁠
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Motherhood can be the most rewarding and amazing experience in the world. 😍 But, it can also be one of the hardest. 😖 It’s easy for the stress of mom life to become overwhelming. If you’re working, you somehow have to juggle a work schedule and job demands, in addition to fulfilling expectations at home. 🤹‍♀️ If you’re a stay-at-home mom, it can be all too easy to surround yourself with the pressures and stress of motherhood, and forget to ever come up for a breath. 😰 For me, when that stress starts to bubble over, it really affects my relationship with my husband and my kids. When I start to feel like this, I know it's time to reset my motherhood mindset.⁠ 🧘‍♀️ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
Article by: Lisa Prosser⁠
📷: @liaeverette⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #resetmindset #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick #motherhoodmindset
When you have to suction their nose during cold an When you have to suction their nose during cold and flu season. 😂😷⁠
📷: @perfectionpending⁠
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#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick #coldandflu #parentlife #toddlerlife
🧼 Cleaning Tips and Tricks for Busy Moms 🧹⁠
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As a busy mom, I have a whole lot going on at any given moment. 🤹‍♀️ Sometimes, I'm not able to keep my house as clean as I like. 😬 But I have found that I’m much happier when my house is clean and organized, so I try to dedicate some time to getting the job done. I’ve found that following these ten cleaning tips and tricks makes things much easier for a busy mom to maintain (and keeps a whole lot happier!).⁠ 🙌 {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading and see our tips!}⁠
Article by: @flake.lauren⁠
📷: unknown⁠
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#adultlife #adulthood #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #cleaningtips #motherhoodunplugged #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick #cleanup #cleaning #cleaningmode #timetoclean #passionforcleaning #cleanyourhouse #healthyhome #springcleaning #housecleaning #howtoclean
I mean, can you blame us?! 😍😂⁠ 📷: @momf I mean, can you blame us?! 😍😂⁠
📷: @momfriendblog⁠
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#pinchmeimcute #stpatricksday #stpattysday #motherhood #momlife #motherhoodrising #mumlife #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick #babiesofig #lucky
Absolutely true. 💚🍀 Happy St. Patrick's Day! Absolutely true. 💚🍀 Happy St. Patrick's Day!⁠
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#motherhoodquote #motherhood #quotes #momlife #quoteoftheday #mumspiration #motherhoodrising #mumlife #inspiringquotes #stpatricksday #momfriends #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick #fourleafclover #lucky
☀️ Warm Weather Wardrobe Refresh 😎⁠ .⁠ ☀️ Warm Weather Wardrobe Refresh 😎⁠
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The temperatures are rising and Spring is almost here! If you're not sure how to transition things in your closet with the new season and you're looking for some pieces to welcome the warmer weather, we've got you covered. Consider this your warm-weather wardrobe refresh. 🙌 {Click 🔗 in bio for our tips and for new Spring pieces!}⁠
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#springishere #warmweatherwardrobe #springtime #springstyle #ootd #fashion #style #spring #springfashion #instafashion #instastyle #styleinspo #mommychick #babychick
Such a sweet pregnancy announcement. 😍 To all t Such a sweet pregnancy announcement. 😍 To all the lucky babies out there . . . you're magically a dream come true. 🌈💕⁠
📷: @isisallmiightyy⁠
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#pregnancy #pregnant #pregnancyannouncement #momtobe #pregnancylife #mamatobe #firstpregnancy #babybump #pregnancyjourney #firsttrimester #preggo #luckybaby #luckymama #maternity #motherhood #momlife #expecting #mumlife #mommytobe #pregnantlife #babyontheway #inspirepregnancy #mommychick #babychick
😧 Common Concerns of New Parents (And How to Ha 😧 Common Concerns of New Parents (And How to Handle Them)⁠ 👍⁠
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You waited months and months for this big moment. 🤰 The day you get to meet your bundle of joy and bring him or her home. 👶 Once you're home, you're quickly overtaken by common concerns many new parents have! Wondering how often you should be feeding your new baby? Did they tell you when your baby can have his or her first bath? 🤔⁠
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Don't worry. You're NOT alone! In fact, it's natural to be feeling a little unsure about this whole parenting thing right about now (I know I did!). 😬 So to help you out, we're going to break down some of the common concerns of new parents AND how to handle them!⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
Article by: @fitmommystrong⁠
📷: unknown (DM us for credit!)⁠
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#thisispostpartum #postpartum #postpartumlife #newparent #postpartumcare #postpartumcareplan #newborn #dailyparenting #honestlymothering #motherhoodunplugged #youarenotalone #motherhood #mothering #momlife #newmom #4thtrimester #fourthtrimester #postnatal #babychick #mommychick #motherhoodthroughinstagram #mumlife #mommylife #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣