This is an advanced pain management technique that ensures that a pregnant woman has a comfortable labor. A regional anesthesia (epidural anesthesia) is given in which an anesthetic drug is injected near the spinal cord in the spinal canal. This numbs the body below the waist, but the movements are not impaired.
Anesthesia is given when the patient is in active labor. It can be given as a single injection or in multiple doses through a special epidural catheter by a skilled anesthetist.
- It gives an almost complete relief from pain with the patient being mobile
- No postpartum headache as in spinal anesthesia
- Mother is conscious and alert throughout the labor
- An instrumental delivery can be performed under the same anesthesia, if need arises
- If the patient has to be taken for caesarean section, the effect can be topped up through the epidural catheter.
- There may be sudden drop in the blood pressure
- Due to pelvic floor relaxation, baby’s head may not rotate and forceps application may be required.
- There is a slight increased rate of instrumental and caesarean deliveries.