Your doctor must have mentioned epidural injections when discussing labour and intervention options; epidural is a regional anaesthetic that is injected in your back around the nerves that carry pain signals from your uterus and cervix to your brain while in labour. Read to find answers to some of the most common queries women have about epidurals –
When can I take an epidural?
You can usually take an epidural at any point in your labour; most women opt for it when their contractions get strong and cervix has dilated to about 5 cm – 6 cm. Once you have taken an epidural, it can offer relief later as well, in case, you need stitches. The effect of an epidural stays for a few hours and if need be you can take top-ups as well.
How is an epidural given?
A tube is inserted between the small bones in your spine with the help of a needle. The painkilling drugs are then given by one of the following methods –
- The painkiller can be injected into the tube and you can get top-ups as well. Such drugs take about 15 – 20 minutes to take effect.
- The other end of the tube can be attached to a pump for continuous infusion.
- A Combined Spinal Epidural (CSE) is injected directly in the body and along with it an epidural tube is fixed for extra relief.
How will the epidural affect my baby? Are there any side-effects?
Epidural increases the chances of your blood pressure dropping and affecting the flow of oxygen to your baby, however, this is covered by inserting a tube in your hand or arm before an epidural, this tube is used to give medications and fluids if blood pressure falls later on. Apart from this, the dose is too weak to affect your baby. There are few other concerns as well, like fever, which you should discuss with your doctor.
What to expect post-partum?
- Fatigue and Tiredness – You would feel tired for a few days post-delivery and if you have had a C-section then the fatigue and tired feeling might be longer as well. Try to rest as much as possible and don’t exert yourself.
- Breast-feeding at Odd-hours – Your baby, for first few months, will only feed and sleep; and you would even find yourself waking up at odd hours in the night to feed your baby. Wearing comfortable nursing gowns and nursing bras would be a relief as you can sleep comfortably and also breastfeed easily. It might take some time before you get a hang of breastfeeding; but don’t worry about it.
- Excessive Vaginal Discharge – Vaginal discharge continues for days after delivery and you would need period-style-pads. You can even opt for period-panties for post-partum period to help you feel comfortable and avoid leaking or staining. You can buy Adira Period Panties from here.
- Mood Swings – Your hormones will take time to settle down; you might experience irritation, frustration and other strong emotions which sometimes lead to post-partum depression. Keep yourself happy; dress-up a little, wear nice maternity clothes like nursing tops and kurtis that might help you feel good. Go out, talk to friends and family; and spend time with your baby.
You will recover soon and the changes in your body will also settle down; just spend as much time possible with your baby and enjoy this new-found feeling of motherhood!