Epidural is reliable consistent pain relief during labour. It involves placing a tube in the space around the spinal cord, so an opioid (pethidine or fentanyl) and a local anaesthetic (bupivacaine or ropivacaine) are delivered close to the roots of the nerves.
• It takes about 5 minutes to set up and about 15 minutes for the needle to be inserted.
• You will be positioned sitting up curled over a pillow with your feet supported on a chair.
• Your back is swabbed with antiseptic solution (might be cold)
• Local anaesthetic injection is given in the area of the epidural
• It is important that you remain still while the anaesthetist is putting the epidural in.
• Once the epidural is inserted, you will need to have continuous fetal monitoring (CTG) for the rest of your labour
Possible side effects:
• Low blood pressure.
• Need for bladder catheter if you have trouble passing urine
• Feeling itchy and shivery
• Epidural may slow the progress of labour slightly.
• Epidural may stop you from walking for few hours
• Headache: when the needle is inserted further to the spinal space. There is a one in 250 chance of this happening. It is treated by injecting some of your blood in the epidural space.
• Infection in the skin around the epidural.