5 Myths and Truths About Epidurals

June 4, 2018 | Pregnancy

There is a lot of controversy and conflicting information when it comes to epidurals. From old wives’ tales to stories of horrific experiences, misinformation has led to pregnant women both fearing and making uninformed decisions around this popular procedure. Like any procedure, there are risks, but when the facts are presented, women are able to make a much more informed decision on their labor and delivery choices.

If You Want an Epidural, You Can Have It

This is not entirely accurate. While epidurals work well for the majority of the population, there are certain women who cannot have one. There are risks of complications with women on blood thinners or with women that have certain spinal issues. These issues are discussed by your doctor in advance to determine if an epidural is an option for you.

Epidurals Make Delivery Harder

Epidurals are a type of medicine, however there are different types of epidurals. Some are heavier than others. Walking epidurals, while not recommended that you walk, are a much lighter version of the traditional epidural. They still give significant pain relief but in a more mild form. Very little medication reaches your unborn child and any that does wears of quite quickly after birth.

Epidurals Will Leave You With Complications

As with any medical procedure, there is always a chance of complications. Epidurals are no different. However, the risk of complications with epidurals are very rare. Complications can include headaches and nausea. This is generally a result of an error being made with the epidural process itself. The risk of paralysis is extremely rare; while it can happen, the odds are approximately one in 240,000.

The Needle Hurts

Well, this one depends on your pain tolerance. An epidural is a very similar process to other intravenous procedures. A needle is inserted and then a tube is left in place.  Prior to the needle, a numbing agent is used on the area, this reduces the pain. After the numbing takes effect, the needle is inserted and removed as the tube is securely inserted. This entire procedure, after numbing, takes under two minutes. More of what is felt is pressure, as opposed to direct pain.

It Won’t Work Anyway

Epidurals are extremely effective. There is a very high success rate on them.  Again though, like any medical procedure, there are the rare group of women who react differently to this common procedure.  It is less than 5 per cent of women who do not feel relief from an epidural. Many of these are a result of not receiving the correct dose of medications, other factors include the position of either the mother or the fetus.  In these cases, the issues are easily solved.

When it comes to epidurals the misinformation can be more frightening the actual procedure. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about epidurals and spinals. These are options that are available to you and may help you have a more memorable and pleasant delivery.

If this is your first pregnancy, we know you will likely have a lot questions. We are here to help in any way that we can.