How an epidural is given during childbirth
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How an epidural is given during childbirth


An epidural during childbirth is an injection into your lower back
that temporarily blocks pain from your waist down. You’ll be asked either to lie
on your side with your knees tucked into your chest or to sit upright and lean
forward. This opens up the space between the bones in your spine. Your anaesthetist
will carry out your epidural in two parts. Firstly a small amount of local
anaesthetic is injected into your skin to completely numb the area. Then a hollow
epidural needle is given into your epidural space. This is the space just
outside the membranes that surround your spinal cord. When the epidural needle
reaches the correct spot, your anesthetist will thread a very thin
plastic tube through the center of the hollow needle. They’ll then remove the
epidural needle, leaving just the tube in place. The tube will run from inside your
epidural space to the outside of your body. It’s secured using adhesive tape
and used by your anaesthetist to give you medicines for pain relief when you need
them. Your anaesthetist may also attach a pump
to the tube so you can top up your pain relief when needed. And sometimes you’ll
be able to control this yourself. When you no longer need pain relief, the tube
will be carefully removed and the area covered with a plaster.

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