Around 4 in 5 (80%) women who had labour in Australia received pain relief. In 2021, the most common types were nitrous oxide (inhaled) (52%), followed by epidural or caudal analgesic (42%) and systemic opioids (11%).
Used by an estimated 70-75% of women who give birth, an epidural is the most common—and most effective—type of anesthetic for pain relief during labor. An epidural is a numbing medicine given by inserting a needle and a catheter (a small, flexible tube) into the lower part of a woman's back.
Epidurals are available at most hospitals, but not in birth centres or during home births.
Typically, you can receive an epidural as early as when you are 4 to 5 centimeters dilated and in active labor. Normally, it takes about 15 minutes to place the epidural catheter and for the pain to start subsiding and another 20 minutes to go into full effect.
Finland has the highest rate of the epidural rates by country. Roughly 89% of women giving birth in Finland get an epidural. This very high rate is attributed to the ubiquity of epidurals in Finland. Also, Finnish health guidelines recommend that physicians offer epidurals to most women.
For most women, this is a personal decision that depends on two things: how worried you are about having pain and how important natural childbirth (labour without pain medicine) is to you. An epidural is considered the most effective and easily adjustable type of pain relief for childbirth. Epidurals are very common.
Some people describe the feeling as being like intense period cramps, others say it feels like a tightening or pounding feeling in your uterus or across your belly, others describe the feeling as being like very intense muscle cramps, while still other people describe contractions as being like the sort of wrenching ...
Hospitals and doctors have their own individual policies for epidurals. In most cases, however, an epidural will not be given until the mother is at least 3-4 centimeters dilated. Once the mother is fully dilated most doctors and hospitals will consider it too late for an epidural to be given.
For some mothers, even the possibility of a smaller risk that is more common, like a drop in her blood pressure isn't worth it. There are others who worry about problems like fetal distress. Ask your practitioner about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of epidurals if these are your concerns as well.
Benefits are payable under item 22031 for the initial intrathecal or epidural injection of a therapeutic substance/s, in association with anaesthesia and surgery, for the control of post-operative pain.
And you'll still be able to feel your baby moving through the birth canal and coming out. Epidural medication is delivered through a catheter – a very thin, flexible, plastic, hollow tube – that's inserted into the epidural space just outside the membrane that surrounds your spinal cord and spinal fluid.
According to ASA practice guidelines, a spinal block or epidural is preferred for most cesarean deliveries because the baby is exposed to the lowest amount of medication and the mother can still actively participate in the baby's birth. However, general anesthesia may be necessary in some cases.
Although any drug given to the mother during labor also gets into the baby's system, the anesthetics used with epidurals do not cause any harm to the baby. The primary reason why getting an epidural creates a somewhat higher risk of a birth injury is that epidurals tend to slow down the birth process.
With no epidural or narcotics on board, most birthing parents rate active-phase labor a 10 on the pain scale of 1 to 10. With pain management techniques taught in childbirth education, however, laboring parents can greatly reduce the intensity of the pain they experience.
It's normal to worry that you'll still feel some pain even after you've been given an epidural. Most women experience great pain relief with an epidural, but it won't be 100 percent pain-free.
Complications from epidurals are extremely rare, and pushing with an epidural is generally not a problem because you will still be able to feel pressure (rectal pressure, that is!) despite not feeling any pain or contractions.
Most of the time, you can walk within a half hour or so of your epidural injection. However, you will not necessarily be walking normally at this point. Most clinics and hospitals monitor you for 15 minutes to an hour after an epidural injection. During this time, they will likely ask how you feel.
While a handful of things might hurt worse than labor, the significance of the pain caused by giving birth should not be minimized. And though labor can be a painful process, certain things can contribute to or increase the discomfort felt.
The potential for a quicker labor, delivery and recovery – For some people, a natural birth may go more quickly. While it depends on several different factors, like how relaxed you may be, in some cases medications can interfere with contractions and prolong labor.
Common options for coping with pain include massage, water therapy, and breathing exercises. Music and calming smells (aromatherapy) can help relax you. Consider taking short walks and changing positions during labor—moving around can reduce pain.
The numbness and muscle weakness in your legs will probably wear off within 2 hours after the epidural medicine is stopped. You may find that it's hard to urinate until all the medicine has worn off. Your back may be sore.
Ultimately, a natural birth may be more painful than a cesarean section. However, the pain after your cesarean section combined with the heightened risks to you and your baby may outweigh the initial pain of childbirth. Make sure you consult with your doctors to get the best possible advice for you.
Everyone experiences contractions differently, with some people feeling more tightness and pressure in their abdomen, and others feeling them in their back or pelvic area. As the baby moves down, and depending on the baby's position, the contraction pain and intensity can change as well.