During prenatal meetings, future parents frequently ask me about the difference between an epidural and spinal anesthesia. Here is an answer that might interest future parents.
An epidural is a regional anesthesia causing partial motor paralysis in a woman in labour or during a caesarian. This procedure is completed by an anesthetist and consists of inserting a needle then a catheter in the lower back, between two vertebrae (often in the lumbar region), to insert the epidural in the spinal column. Medication will then be injected continuously or repeatedly. It takes about twenty minutes to complete the procedure, then another twenty to feel the soothing effects. The mother will feel that her lower appendages are heavier, sometimes trembling, perhaps feel slightly dizzy, and won’t feel the need to urinate. The nurse at her side throughout labour will ensure her well-being during and after the procedure. The effectiveness of an epidural is about 75% and doesn’t eliminate the pressure of the baby descending in her pelvis towards the vulva. A perfect epidural will allow you to feel enough but not too much, able to push without feeling too much pain.
Spinal anesthesia goes deeper into the spinal cord than an epidural and provides an instant effect. It’s very popular when trying to soothe quickly and effectively. Spinal anesthesia is never continuous; it’s a single dose. It’s anesthesia that will numb the lower body, like an epidural, but it’s more effective for soothing pain. This is why doctors will choose it if they want quick and effective soothing, especially during a caesarian, because it has fewer undesirable effects than with general anesthesia (putting the mother under). The procedure is the same as an epidural, so the anesthetist can do it quickly and easily, and the mother is frozen faster and better while remaining alert and conscious of what is going on around her.
The doctor will explain to you why they prefer one over the other based on your condition. You will see, it’s great to be able to understand your options, the choices you have and why they’re important. Send me stories about your personal experiences.
Other videos from my prenatal classes can inform you about different methods to soothe pain: natural and alternative ways to relieve pain and analgesics and anesthetics.
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The Baby Expert
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