An Epidural Nerve Block is a medicinal procedure used on women giving birth. It helps to effectively alleviate the excessive pain during birth and labour.
In recent times, as the procedure’s use have seen significant increases, more in-depth studies have been made on the subject. Even more benefits as well as side-effects have been uncovered. But as with so much else, this subject too have fallen victim to the old but gold “Old wives’ tale”.
There is a high chance that you have come across someone swearing against to ever use such medicinal procedures. Their line of reasoning being; that there should be a high likelihood of paralysis and messing up with the spinal cord. But dear readers, fear not as we have come to uncover the truth, nothing but the truth.
It is essential to keep ourselves to facts. An Epidural Nerve Block is not being injected to your spinal cord and it does not cause the patient to be paralysed. Sure enough, in some literature paralysis may have been brought up as one of the side-effects but the vast array of hands-on-experiences prove that such occurrences are of the more seldom side-effects.
This is a medical service meant to make childbirth better overcomeable. It is purely for the more at ease experience for the individual – especially first-time mothers experiencing this kind of pain for the first time.
Also, the procedure just about takes the worst part of the pain and still guarantees that the mother candidate can feel some amount of pain and be active in the process of giving birth. This medicine does not take away from any of the experience meant to be yours.
Additional information relating to the procedure:
■ It is a type of neuraxial anesthesia:
Here, it is our backside that is being numbed – in an effective way. The injection is aimed at a region away from and right after the spinal cord, not having any contact with the spinal cord – as the rumours otherwise claim. The name of that space where the Epidural Injection goes in is also what gives this method its name: Epidural Space.
■ The effect of it
An optimal Epidural Nerve Block is expected to have an effect of significant pain relief under the phase of expansion: when the womb starts opening up and have reached a width of at least 4 cm. The pain relief is in effect from the midriff and to some part of the pelvis. That’s the area covered.
The injection does not numb to such degrees where the urge to press in aid for the birth cannot be felt. This sense is kept intact so that the mother candidate has a still active role in the unfolding events. This is why not all pain is removed and will not be.
Childbirth is hard physical work. You’re supposed to be able to walk around after giving birth with the aid of an Epidural Nerve Block. But for somewhat physically passive women, it may be hard to feel both the urge to press or be difficult to use their legs.
And not to forget: the treatment can take up to 30 minutes after the first injection, before it shows any signs.
■ Step-by-step procedure:
From start to end you will be in the care of professionals. The process of the Epidural Nerve Block though is solely led by a specialist in anesthesia. All precautions for a sterile environment is also strictly taken to avoid infections of any kind.
The doctor first performs a local anesthetics at where the special needle for the task is supposed to go in: at the epidural space.
The long, special needle is being injected while the female patient sits absolutely still as best possible as this step needs to be very precise.
A very thin and soft catheter is inserted through the special needle and is kept there as the needle is pulled back out from the Epidural Space.
The catheter is taped to its place securely from the place of the injection and further up, following a trail up the spine. The catheter is then connected to a small pump.
This pump will continue to give the pain relieving medicine in accurate, small amounts – throughout the event as need be.
If the pain alleviating effect is lost, a bolus can be given through the same catheter but only once every hour as need be.
If it should be decided that the birth needs to change from the traditional way to the one of caesarean, the Epidural catheter comes to aid again. The anesthetics doctor will then give stronger medicine with faster effects shown through that same thin tube of the catheter. And this will be enough throughout the rest of the surgery to take the excessive pain away.
■ An alternative
In those rare instances where an Epidural block does not perform as effective as desired, the anesthetic specialist can opt for the alternative: a Spinal block.
The steps for a Spinal block are all the same. The only difference is that the latter works faster and much stronger. For planned caesarean interventions, this is the first method used to alleviate pain.
Since the year of 2000 and until this day, there has been a clear increase in the amount of birth instances where this medicinal procedure is preferred and used.
For women giving birth for the first time for a single child, with a normal chain of events: the number lied at 5 % in 2002 and now lies at 31 % and have stayed that way ever since the year of 2007.
For women of whom have already experienced previous birth(s), undergoing another for a single child, with a normal chain of events: the number lied at 9 % for the year of 2013.
The low rate for the latter is explained by all births after the very first one being significantly faster and easier in comparison. The need will not be as much of a necessity.