FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
The majority of your queries should have been answered in the preceding sections. The following may be the other questions for which you may would like some additional information.
Do I have to stay in bed after regional anesthesia?
Not necessarily. But this may vary with the hospital practice. In some hospitals, the care providers prefer that you stay in bed after regional anesthesia for manpower, safety and monitoring issues although you are capable of sitting or walking. In some hospitals, you may be allowed to sit in a lounge chair or walk.
If I have regional anesthesia, will I be able to push?
Yes. Modern day regional anesthetic techniques allow you to rest comfortably while your cervix dilates. When your cervix is completely dilated and it is time to push, you will have energy in reserve. Regional anesthesia should not affect your ability to push; it should make pushing more comfortable for you.
What will I feel after the block takes effect?
Although significant pain relief will occur, you may still may be aware of pressure or sensations with contractions. You may feel your obstetrician's examinations as labor progresses. Depending on your circumstances and your baby's condition, your anesthesiologist may adjust the degree of numbness for your comfort and to assist labor and delivery. You might notice some degree of temporary numbness, heaviness or weakness in your legs.
How long will the block last?
The duration of epidural analgesia can be extended usually for as long as you need it. After the epidural catheter is placed, additional medication can be administered as needed. Throughout your labor, your comfort and progress will be monitored frequently and medications adjusted accordingly. A nurse may assist your anesthesiologist with this monitoring. After delivery, the epidural catheter will be removed and, within a few hours, sensations will return to normal.
What if I plan for natural childbirth? Can I have help later?
By all means you can go ahead. But at any time during the labor and delivery, if you feel that it is too much to bear the pain and change your mind, an anesthesiologist will be happy to help you provided your labor is not too advanced that delivery is imminent. Changing your mind and requesting pain relief should not be considered as failure.
Are there any situations where epidural analgesia may have an advantage over natural childbirth?
Epidural analgesia may be useful if you have certain conditions such as heart or lung problems. Occasionally, epidural analgesia may be beneficial if you happen to have preeclampsia (high blood pressure and swollen feet). You should discuss this with your anesthesiologist and obstetrician.
Will I have back pain following epidural analgesia?
You may have localized back pain from the needle insertion, which should last a day or so. On the other hand, you may experience generalized back pain, which is not necessarily attributable to the epidural. Studies have shown that mothers who have natural childbirth deliveries are likely to experience generalized back pain as those who have epidurals. It seems that pregnancy itself can increase the incidence of back pain because of softening of ligaments resulting in back strain.
Will I be able to urinate if I have an epidural anesthesia?
Epidural anesthesia may decrease the sensation of a full bladder and your obstetrician or nurse may place a temporary catheter to drain your urine.