Choosing to get an epidural is a very personal and individual decision. Often, moms will envision their child birth experience and make a plan to get an epidural before they even go into labor. Other moms decide that they want one in the midst of labor, which is completely understandable. Whatever reasons or experiences that ultimately lead a woman to receive an epidural are completely valid and shouldn't be shamed. Child birth is really hard. If you've at least considered getting the magic medicine, you may have wondered about how you'll feel after you get an epidural.
For most women, an epidural feels like bliss, which is probably why it's so popular. According to American Pregnancy, 50 percent of pregnant women opt to get an epidural for their labor and delivery. The administration of it is relatively easy and painless (considering all of the other pain you'll probably be in), but that doesn't mean you won't feel some anxiety about it. The idea of a huge needle going into your back probably isn't the most pleasant thought, and can cause many mothers some nervousness, which is totally normal.
As explained on the Kids Health website, an epidural is a regional anesthesia that provides pain relief continuously from the belly down. The same site explained that a woman typically lays on her side or hunches over to make a C-curve with her back. The anesthesiologist will clean the back and insert a local numbing anesthetic. After that, the doctor will insert a catheter like tube and the medicine will be administered. You should start to feel numb from the waist down 10 to 20 minutes after the epidural is properly placed.
How the actual epidural feels throughout labor, child birth and even after varies from woman to woman depending on the type of medicine used in the epidural. According to Very Well, some women report feeling pressure during contractions or nothing at all. Others, report being numb from the nipples down, which is why it's so important to talk to your doctor and describe the type of pain management you are seeking. Once the epidural is in place many women take a rest and go to sleep until it's time to push. Again, this depends on the medicines used and your body's response.
If you push and delivery vaginally, it's really a crap shoot on whether or not you'll feel yourself pushing. If you can't feel anything, there will be medical staff to guide you. If you feel everything, you can always ask to have more medicine added to the epidural.
After delivery, the epidural will be removed and the aforementioned Very Well post explained that most women feel numbness in their legs for several hours or simply weak in the knees. You might even have some back pain from the insertion of the epidural. About one percent of women experience spinal headaches in the immediate hours after getting an epidural, according to another Very Well post. It doesn't matter if you give birth vaginally or via C-section, there's a chance you could get one. I had one after my C-section, and I can tell you that those headaches are brutal and nothing touches the pain. Thankfully, it was over in about three days, but for awhile I could barely see straight. There are other complications that are extremely rare like paralysis, permanent nerve damage, and infection to be aware of as well.
Most likely that not, your epidural will feel like total relief. If you want one there's no harm in doing a little research now and asking your medical provider questions. That way if you initially decide not to get one, but change your mind at any point during the birthing process, you'll be armed with adequate information.