How Bad Does Getting An Epidural Hurt?

To me, the scariest part of becoming a mother wasn't the fact that I was about to bring a tiny human into the world. The thing that kept me up late at night —besides my bladder being crushed — was a fear of the unknown. Specifically, what giving birth to a child was actually going to be like. Due to preexisting medical conditions, I knew I was going to have to get a C-section for health and safety reasons, so getting numbed up was part of the deal. Still, I wondered, how bad does getting an epidural hurt?

The first thing I learned, upon asking some very reliable resources (my friends and the internet) was that there are actually quite a few different types of anesthesia for childbirth. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), some of the most common methods are regional anesthesia, epidural, spinal, and general anesthesia. For many expectant moms, though, an epidural is the primary type of anesthesia given during labor and childbirth. Additionally, the AANA noted that an epidural, "is a local anesthetic delivered through a tiny tube called a catheter placed in the small of the back." Thankfully you'll get numbed up a bit before they place the catheter in your back, but how painful can you expect it to be?

If you're anything like me, you're going to get a wide range of answers from your friends if you ask them how it feels. When moms describe what getting an epidural is like, you're bound to get a multitude of responses. But if you ask the experts, you'll get a pretty concrete picture of what to expect. According to Nemours, the actual epidural feels like, "a stick or pinch and some pressure."

If you're wondering how long that pain will last, thankfully it's not long. Amy Bunton, a nurse technician, tells Romper that, "the epidural should reach peak effect around 15 minutes after administration, but you should feel a degree of relief almost immediately." Bunton also made a point to note that every person is different and keeping an open line of communication with your medical staff to let them know exactly how you are feeling. So, even though each childbirth experience is unique, it's nice to know that an epidural shouldn't hurt as bad as you might have expected.