Epidural anesthesia involves putting a sterile guide needle and a small
tube (epidural catheter) into the space between the spinal cord and outer
membrane of the spinal cord (epidural space). The epidural catheter is placed
at or below the waist.
The guide needle is inserted and removed,
while the catheter remains in place. The catheter is taped in place up the
center of your back and at the top of your shoulder.
medicine is injected into the catheter to numb your body below the insertion
site. The amount of discomfort or pain that you have depends on the amount of
anesthetic used. Less anesthetic (often called a light epidural) will allow you
to be more active in your labor and feel enough to push effectively. With
higher levels of anesthetic, you will feel little or no pain from your
contractions. You may be required to remain in bed when an epidural is
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.