So is your baby finally arriving in the world? Then, you must be thrilled & nervous at the same time. As the concept of a painful delivery gives anxiety to many women. Fortunately, with the advancement of modern medicine, you can choose to have a painless delivery! This way, you can focus not on the pain and only on the baby. The journey of pregnancy is more like a rollercoaster ride. So, if you've been experiencing a lot of discomforts lately, you must opt for pregnancy massages at Pink Orchid.
Besides, there are a couple of analgesics and anesthetics called epidurals that can reduce your pain during normal delivery without having to go for a cesarean. More than two-thirds of women opt to use epidurals during delivery. So you aren't alone in your choice! If you have any fears about the side effects of epidurals, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor. We have also addressed those fears in the blog below.
Since you must be preparing for your baby's arrival, you can sign up to Learn Baby Massage Techniques to alleviate your child’s pain on your own from the expert - Annie Hakim.
Table Of Contents
What Is Painless Delivery?
Painless delivery is the use of epidural injection (a numbing agent) given by an anesthesiologist for pain relief during labor. It doesn't guarantee 100% pain relief, but it majorly reduces pain and sensation in the lower part of the body. It is injected into the lower back only once active labor begins. Early labor pains are managed using natural methods like warm showers, massages, and exercises.
Epidural drugs are injected into the lower back and do not circulate into the bloodstream. This means they do not affect your baby. There are different types of epidural drugs that will be offered to you:
This is the most commonly administered type of epidural during labor. It is injected via a tiny tube into the epidural space and provides continual relief during labor. You will have relief from pain but will still be alert and will be able to push when the time comes.
It is a single shot of injection administered directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. It is a fast-acting drug that is effective for about an hour or two. It's usually given in C-section deliveries.
It is a combination of epidural and spinal blocks. It does both pain-blocking and offers continual relief as needed.
Pros And Cons Of Painless Delivery
Epidurals are usually very safe, and any complications are rare to arise. The amount of medication required to numb the pain is very little. Epidural is considered one of the safest to have a painless normal delivery.
You have the option of taking an epidural injection if the pain is unbearable during labor or if the exhaustion due to pushing is too great or in case of an emergency that requires an urgent C-section.
Advantages Of Epidural During Delivery
Painless delivery helps women opt for natural childbirth instead of a C-section delivery.
Painless delivery can help women focus on the actual delivery rather than just the pain. It can help them relax and prevent them from getting exhausted and irritated during childbirth. This helps decrease the risk of postpartum complications.
Epidural relax the vaginal muscles of the mother and makes space for the baby to descend easily.
It prevents damage to the pelvic muscles that might occur in a normal delivery.
It brings down the blood pressure of the mother during labor. This is good because there are chances of BP shooting up to dangerous levels during labor, ending in a stroke.
Disadvantages Of Epidural During Delivery
It may have side effects such as dizzy spells, shivers, or back pain.
A fall in the mother's blood pressure could lead to a fall in the heartbeat rate of the baby. In extreme cases, an emergency C-section may be performed.
Risk of severe headaches due to leakage of the epidural fluid into the spine.
Risk of irreversible damage to the nerves.
The labor may take longer than usual due to the usage of an epidural.
There may be trouble in passing urine after the delivery. In such a case, a catheter can be used.
The lower part of the body may be numb for a while, and hence it might take a while until you can walk.
Side Effects Of Epidural During Delivery
Epidurals are an extremely effective way of relieving labor pain. They are one of the safest, too, but some people might experience some side effects. This includes
One-sided pain: Some women might experience numbness in only one side of the body instead of complete and bodily pain relief. Also, epidurals might not give full pain relief when the fetus has its head pressed against your back (back labor).
Limited birth options: If you are opting for using an epidural during your labor, you can't have a water birth. You can't also deliver at a birthing center. If you need an epidural, you will be transferred to a hospital.
Trouble in passing urine: The first 24 postpartum hours might pose a challenge as a decrease in bladder sensitivity might lead to troubles in peeing.
Painless Delivery Procedure
You may opt for an epidural at any stage during your labor. It is independent of your cervical dilation. If you are experiencing pain you cannot tolerate, ideally, you should ask for an epidural. If you are someone who is hypersensitive to pain, plan well in advance with your doctor. The procedure takes 15 minutes to complete. If you are unable to cooperate with the doctor for that time due to unbearable labor pains, it will become impossible to relieve your pain.
The steps of administering epidural anesthesia to ensure painless delivery are as follows:
Intravenous or IV fluids are injected into your arms.
You might be asked to bend forward or sit straight over a pillow or lie down on your side. This is so that the doctors can insert the needle at the appropriate place. You will have to remain while the doctor injects the epidural.
The doctor will use a cold antiseptic to clean your lower back. They will use a very small amount of local anesthetic to numb the area where the epidural needle will be injected.
The epidural needle is inserted in between the bones of the spine, in the space surrounding the spinal cord. It is important to let the anesthetist know when you are having a contraction. The epidural needle will be inserted only once the contraction stops.
The needle is removed after a soft plastic tube is inserted. The anesthetic is delivered through that tube and will eventually numb the pain.
The epidural will kick in within five to thirty minutes. You can opt for the epidural at any stage of the labor.
You would only feel pinprick during the epidural procedure. There would be a feeling of pressure in the process but no pain. The drugs will be continuously administered through the infusion pump to help with the pain. It would neither hamper the intensity of the contractions nor the process of the labor.
Who Should & Shouldn't Opt For Painless Delivery?
There are particularly a few cases where doctors advise you to opt for a painless delivery. These cases are
If you have a preexisting condition. For example, preeclampsia, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension.
If your previous delivery was a C-section and you are opting for a vaginal birth for your current delivery.
If the labor becomes prolonged or complicated, it is advised to ask for an epidural in such a case.
However, painless delivery is not suitable for all women. If you have any of the following conditions, you probably shouldn't opt for an epidural during labor.
Bleeding disorders with a high risk of hematoma or spinal hemorrhage. This might lead to a permanent neurological problem.
If you had lower back surgery previously.
If you have a skin infection in the epidural area.
Blood clotting disorders
1. What is painless normal delivery?
Painless normal delivery is the use of medication given by an anesthesiologist for pain relief during labor. It doesn't guarantee 100% pain relief, but it majorly reduces pain and sensation in the lower part of the body.
2. How big is an epidural needle?
The epidural needle is wider than the one used for flu shots. It is typically three and a half inches long. The medication numbs the lower area providing relief from the contractions. In the case of a C-section, the amount of medication is increased, so you won't feel your lower half at all.
3. Is painless delivery harmful?
Epidural medication usually used in painless delivery is very safe. There might be some back pain or dizziness as a side effect, but on the whole, an epidural is very safe to use in deliveries.
4. Does childbirth hurt with an epidural?
Epidural (used for painless delivery) numbs the lower part of your body so that you feel the intensity of the contractions but not the pain. So you will be alert and aware enough to push your baby out but not exhausted from the pain.
Labor is a complex process, and there is no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to delivering a baby. While epidurals are very safe and effective, the decision to opt or not is up to you. You have to evaluate what is your pain threshold, if you have any preexisting conditions, and whether there might be complications in your labor. Discuss any questions you might have with your doctor, as well as any other pain relief options.