Our goal is to provide relief from pain during labor and delivery, while ensuring the safety of both the mother and the baby. There are several different anesthetic options, including epidurals, spinals, and general anesthesia.
The choice of anesthesia will depend on several factors, including medical history, the stage of labor, and acuity of situations. Anesthesiologists and obstetricians work together to determine the best type of anesthesia for each patient. Please read below for more information.
What is an epidural?
Epidurals provide effective pain control during contractions and vaginal delivery. To place an epidural, a catheter (a spaghetti thin tube) is placed in the lower part of your back. Medication is given through this catheter to provide pain control. The catheter allows continuous administration of medication throughout labor and delivery. An epidural is considered a safe and effective way to manage pain during childbirth and is often the preferred option for laboring women. The epidural can be adjusted as needed throughout labor and delivery to provide the desired level of pain relief.
What is a spinal?
A spinal involves placing a one-time dose of medication in your lower back. No catheter is left with this procedure. The medications work by numbing the lower half of the body, providing relief from pain while allowing the mother to remain conscious. Spinals are frequently given for cesarean sections.
What should I expect for the procedure?
Your anesthesiologist will ask you questions about your medical history, review the procedure and answer any questions you may have. To prepare for the procedure, you will either be asked to lie on your side with your legs curled up to your chest, or to sit and curl your back. Your OB nurse will help you with positioning. First, numbing medication will be placed in the skin of your lower back which may cause a slight sting initially. You will feel pressure in your back during the procedure. The procedure should be largely pain free. If you experience pain, please let your anesthesiologist know.
What are the risks?
All procedures and anesthesia involve some degree of risk. The nature of your operation and your overall pre-operative condition are important factors that are considered when estimating the risks for your particular operative experience. Potential side effects commonly associated with spinal and epidural anesthesia include headaches, low blood pressure, and itchiness. Your anesthesiologist will also review your particular risks, and the risks that are common to the anesthetic plan tailored to you.