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Labor and Birth 19

Medical Interventions

Epidurals
Epidural analgesia is a technique that numbs the lower body by blocking nerve impulses . Women receiving an epidural typically receive a combination of local anesthetics and opioids .
Administration : Epidurals are usually given Drawbacks : Does not provide immediate pain during active labor and there are fewer relief . Placing an epidural takes time and it consequences if given once active labor is may be 30-60 minutes or more from the time underway . Epidurals are administered by it is requested before mother feels relief . IV inserting a needle into the back in order to fluids must be administered prior to placing thread a catheter ( small tube ) into the epidural an epidural and are continued throughout space surrounding the spinal cord . The needle labor . Because of the potential side effects of is withdrawn and medication is then given epidurals , it is likely that other interventions will periodically or continuously through the be used , such as continuous fetal monitoring , catheter to numb the body . frequent blood pressure checks ( automatic

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cuff remains on the mother ’ s arm ), a bladder Advantages : Epidurals are usually effective at catheter , and limiting food and drinks . numbing pain and maintaining pain relief for the duration of labor . They may allow muchneeded rest , especially during a long labor , which can make you to feel nauseous and affect
Epidurals can cause a drop in blood pressure , while allowing the mother to remain alert . baby ’ s heart rate . This drop is usually temporary
A lighter dose may leave some feeling and and medications , IV fluids and / or oxygen may movement in her lower body , allowing various be used to manage this side effect . A low-grade positions and enough feeling to aid in pushing , fever is also possible . Itching , “ breakthrough ” while maintaining adequate pain relief . pain spots on the legs or abdomen and numbing one side more than the other are common . spinal cord and spinal fluid
catheter
needle
vertebrae epidural space
The shaded area illustrates the region affected by the numbing medication in an epidural .
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