An epidural is a method for delivering pain relief drugs or local anesthesia through a catheter placed in the small of the back, just outside the spinal canal. An advantage of the epidural is that it allows most women to fully participate in the birth experience continue to feel touch and pressure while relieving most, if not all, of the pain of labor.
In most cases, the nurse anesthetist will start the epidural when cervical dilation is four to five centimerters. Under certain circumstances, it may be desirable to place the epidural earlier. Benefits of epidural anesthesia include:
• Allows you to rest if your labor is prolonged.
• Some women have a more positive birth experience, by reducing the discomfort of childbirth.
• When other types of coping mechanisms 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 as an active participant in your birth experience.