Pregnancy: Pain Relief Options for Birth (cont.)
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How Is Regional Anesthesia Given During Labor and Childbirth?
If you request regional anesthesia, you may receive epidural or spinal anesthesia, or a combination of the two. Your health care provider will select the type of regional anesthesia based on your general health and the progress of your labor.
After reviewing your medical history, the anesthesiologist will numb an area on your lower back with a local anesthetic. The anesthesiologist will then insert a special needle into the numb area to find the exact location to inject the anesthetic medication. After injecting the medication, your anesthesiologist removes the needle. In most cases, a tiny plastic tube called an epidural catheter stays in place after the needle is removed to deliver medications as needed throughout labor.
The procedure can be done while you are either sitting up or lying on your side.
How Soon Can I Get Regional Anesthesia During Labor?
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The best time to administer regional anesthesia varies depending on you and your baby's response to labor. Your health care provider will determine the best time for you to receive the anesthesia.
Will the Anesthesia Affect My Baby?
Considerable research has shown that regional anesthesia, both epidural and spinal, is safe for you and your baby.
How Long Does It Take for Anesthesia to Work and How Long Will It Last?
An epidural starts working 10 to 20 minutes after the medication has been injected. Pain relief from epidural anesthesia lasts as long as you need it, because medication can always be given through the catheter.
Spinal anesthesia starts working immediately after the medication has been injected. Pain relief lasts about 2 1/2 hours. If your labor is expected to last beyond this time, an epidural catheter will be inserted to deliver medications to continue your pain relief as long as needed.
Reviewed on 7/9/2012
Viewers share their comments
Pregnancy: Pain Relief Options for Childbirth - Side Effects Question: Did you have any side effects with your regional anesthesia during labor?
Pregnancy: Pain Relief Options for Childbirth - Timing of Anesthesia Question: How far along were you with your labor when you got regional anesthesia?
Pregnancy: Pain Relief Options - Epidurals and Spinals Question: Please describe your experience with either an epidural or spinal anesthesia.
Pregnancy: Pain Relief Options - Medications Question: Describe your experience with IV injections of pain medication during labor and childbirth.
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