Epidural Anesthesia in Labor

  • Defined as the placement of local anesthetics and/or narcotics into the epidural space for the purpose of pain relief during labor and birth.

  • Typically, the catheter is placed when first-time moms are 4-5 cm. dilated. It may be placed earlier in those who have delivered before and are in active labor, or if pitocin augmentation is used.

  • Relief is gradual in onset, reaching a maximum at 15-20 minutes. The anesthetic mixture is administered via a continuous infusion to maintain a steady level of relief.

  • Labor patterns may change during the initial anesthetic exposure, but often return to their baseline in 15-20 minutes; pitocin may be required to maintain a good labor pattern.

  • Patients will experience some mild numbness of their legs, but motor function is largely retained. The anesthetic will be tailored to your specific needs, with the goal being complete pain relief, a continued awareness of your labor, and no loss of pushing power.

  • Side effects are uncommon._ Occasionally a headache may result, which may be sever and require treatment. The incidence is less than 1%. The risk of reaction to the medication is very rare, making it safe for both mother and baby.

  • Most insurance companies cover the fee for this procedure in its entirety after deductibles are met. It is recommended that you contact your carrier if you have any questions