Comprehensive Information on Epidural Anesthesia (Part 1)

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There is a common misconception among women that epidural needles cause harm. They wrongly believe that they cause the mother pain, stretching from the back all the way down to the legs and feet. However, this pain is due to the extra weight of the woman during pregnancy, in addition to her negligence of doing exercise that strengthens her back muscles after delivery. But what is epidural injection to begin with? How does it work? What are its pros and cons? Check the details below…

What is the epidural needle and how does it work?
It’s a small rapidly effective anesthetic needle used specifically for the area starting from the navel and stretching all the way down to the feet, which is injected in the mother’s lower back. The anesthetic lasts for a period of 6-8 hours and saves the mother labor pains. It is followed by a relatively large metallic needle to insert a tube which contains liquid medication into the lower back of the woman, specifically into the area between the membrane and the spinal cord, where the medication is absorbed between the vertebrae and the spinal cord, the needle is then withdrawn, leaving the tube taped inside with a special tape for the rest of the delivery.

What is the best time to get the epidural needle?
The cervix stretches during delivery from 1cm wide to 10cm, it is recommended for the woman to take the needle when the cervix has dilated no less than 5cm, to make sure it doesn’t stop the labor, which could require resorting to a cesarean section instead of normal delivery.

What are the disadvantages of epidurals?
-The only negative effect of epidurals for the mother is getting a headache after delivery, which only happens when the metallic needle touches the spinal cord in the second part of the process (inserting the tube), in which the tube pierces the spinal cord when it is removed, causing leakage of spinal fluid, which then moves to the brain when the woman lies down, resulting in some headache. The headache, though, is relieved when the mother stands up as the fluid retreats to the spinal cord due to gravity. The headache can be relieved by drinking coffee, though doctors don’t recommend it because it decreases the mother’s milk. And this little piercing actually heals within 3 days of the delivery, putting an end to the headache as well.
-Administrating the needle inappropriately could result in paralysis for the mother, but this paralysis is temporary and ends shortly after the delivery, it happens in extremely rare situations and depends on the experience of the anesthesiologist.

Who shouldn’t get an epidural needle?
-Women suffering from health problems in the back resulting in deformation of the vertebrae, such as spinal disc problems.
-Women, suffering from lower back pain, whether it starts before pregnancy or even before marriage, should consult a doctor before taking the needle to avoid adverse complications and causing further harm to the spine.
Now you only have to know what you should do when you get the epidural needle in our next part of “Comprehensive Information on Epidural Anesthesia (Part 2)”.