Sunday, August 14, 2011

Epidural Anesthesia

You will need to mute the Playlist on the right side before beginning the video.

This is a great video to watch if you have no idea what is involved in getting an epidural. Where you see the anesthesiologist moving the needle in different directions, he's trying to find the exact space in your spine to place the catheter for the epidural. Since no two spines are alike, he has to go by feel.

There are a few things that are left out from the video that are important for you to be aware of. You will also need to be catheterized to empty your bladder since you can't get up to go to the bathroom. You will have an oxymeter placed on your finger to tell them what your oxygen level is. Often times, your blood pressure will drop too low so you'll be given something to bring it back up. You may itch, shake or run a fever. An epidural will often slow a woman's labor and she is three times more likely to be given pitocin to speed things up. All of these are normal responses and are monitored closely by the medical staff.

The pushing stage of labor is particularly slowed due to the relaxing of the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are very important in this stage of labor as they're used to guide the baby's head so that it enters the birth canal in the most optimal position. This can lead to an increase in the use of forceps or vacuum extraction to help get your baby out.

Don't get me wrong...epidurals have their time and place. Many women have been saved from a cesarean section by receiving an epidural. The following are just a couple instances of when an epidural is beneficial. If a woman has been in labor for an extended period of time with no sleep, her body can become extremely exhausted and begin working against her. If a woman is struggling with high blood pressure during labor, often times she may benefit from an epidural due to its affect on blood pressure.

As a doula, I support a woman's decision of whether or not she wants an epidural. If I can help her have a labor and birth experience that allows her to get through without one...That's icing on the cake!