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Delivering a baby can be scary for a new mother-to-be. Let alone the fear of what might happen during the process, but the amount of pain one is likely to feel is considered immeasurable. But it is possible to have a normal birthing process without the pain — by the use of an epidural.

The anesthetic medications which are deposited in the epidural space act by two mechanisms. The nerves that are leaving the spinal column are blocked by these medicines hence the nerve conduction is blocked and hence analgesia or anesthesia is achieved depending upon the dosage of the medicine. The concentration of the medicine determines whether the medication is an analgesic or anesthetic in nature. When higher concentration of a medicine is used it will block all the sensations carried by that nerve and lead to anesthesia. If the same medicine is used in lower concentration it will block only the pain fibers and will cause analgesia which means only the pain relief without causing muscle weakness.

The two methods of administering an epidural are:

Single shot epidural: The epidural space is usually injected with opiod medication, by injecting it into the epidural space. This usually involves the doctor administering an injection on the patient’s back (in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar region).

Epidural catheter technique: Alternatively a fine bore tube can be passed into the epidural space and the medication can be deposited into the epidural space continuously or intermittently.

The most serious complication that can occur is that the desired effect is not achieved which means failed epidural, or it can act partly which is called a patchy epidural.


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