Tyler Olson/Fotolia

Here's How Having An Epidural Affects Your Body

By
Share
Ad failed to load

If you're pregnant and nearing your due date, you've probably thought long and hard about how and where you'll deliver, including whether or not you'll use any pain medications. There are more than a few common misconceptions about the most common labor and delivery pain relief method: the epidural. So, if you're wondering how having an epidural affects your body, both during labor and as you're recovering after childbirth, look no further. It turns out, there are more than a few experts with more than a few answers.  

According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), more than 50 percent of pregnant women use epidurals during labor and delivery. And, according to the APA, there are actually three pain relieving options, and which one you choose will determine the kind of effects you're going to experience. The basic options for childbirth pain management are either a regular epidural, a spinal block, or a combined spinal-epidural, also known as a "walking" epidural. There are pros and cons to each option, and while the choice is, for the most part, entirely up to you, where you are in labor, how your body is reacting to labor, and what the hospital offers can also dictate what type of epidural is made available to you.

Parenting details the different kinds of labor pain relief, starting with the regular epidural and reporting the following:

Ad failed to load

One of the biggest pros of a regular epidural is that the pain relief can be re-administered regularly, because the catheter remains in your back throughout the course of your labor and delivery so the relief is long-lasting. You will also remain alert, and the anesthesia does not enter the baby's bloodstream. Of course, the main drawback is that once you have it, you'll be too numb to walk and, as a result, are confined to your bed. The numbness may also make it more difficult to push during delivery, and depending on how long you have the epidural in, and how long your labor lasts, you might have to have a urinary catheter, too.

Giphy
Ad failed to load

The spinal block, on the other hand, gives immediate relief as the anesthesia is injected directly into the spinal cord fluid. It does, however, wear off after a few hours. According to Parents, the spinal block is usually used late in labor, as it can only be administered once. One of the major pros to this particular method, however, is that the anesthesia doesn't enter the baby's blood stream like it does with a walking epidural, and you don't need to have a catheter attached to you.

Walking epidurals aren't offered at all hospitals, but where they are offered they might provide a little more flexibility than a regular epidural or spinal block. Parents explains, reporting the following:

Ad failed to load

However, Parenting acknowledges that calling it a walking epidural is a bit misleading, because most patients who receive a walking epidural aren't or can't get out of bed, either. The combination of drugs in the walking epidural may make you less numb, but you could also experience the side effect of you and your baby becoming sleepy as a result of the medication.

Giphy

All of these pain relief options have drawbacks, according to BabyCenter, like lowering your heart rate and potentially your baby's. Epidurals and spinal blocks can slow your labor down, increasing the likelihood that you will need another drug, like Pitocin, to keep labor active and moving along.

Ad failed to load

The APA also cites additional side effects, including shivering, a ringing of the ears, backache, soreness where the needle is inserted, nausea, and/or difficulty urinating. The APA also highlights that approximately 1 percent of women experience a severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid. Your baby might experience the effects of the epidural as well, although the APA acknowledges that studies have not definitely proven whether or not epidurals are the culprit, writing:

Arming yourself with knowledge about the different kinds of pain relief available to you during your labor, and how that pain relief might affect your body during and after childbirth, can help you make the right decision for your labor and delivery experience.

Ad failed to load

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack