An epidural is a type of local anaesthetic. It can be used to completely block pain while you are awake.
This has the advantage of allowing you to avoid the potential complications and common side effects of general anaesthetic, such as feeling sick and dizzy.
Epidural anaesthesia can be used to numb sensation and provide pain relief in situations including:
Epidurals are most commonly associated with pain relief during labour and childbirth. This topic focuses mainly on this use of epidural anaesthesia.
Your midwife and anaesthetistcan advise youon having an epidural during labour and childbirth, and whether they think its necessary.
However, remember that the final decision will be yours.
An epidural may be recommended during:
A smaller amount of local anaesthetic is used in combination with other painkilling medicines.
As your nerve sensations are not completely blocked, a mobile epidural gives pain relief without as much of the numbness or heavy-legged feeling thats experienced during a full epidural.
Another advantage of a walking epidural is that you will be able to feel the contractions and the need to push during the final stages of labour.
As you still have some sensation in your legs, you can also move around if you need to, although its not always recommended.
In rare cases, an epidural isnt recommended. For example, it may not be suitable if you:
Your anaesthetistcan provide you with more information and discuss the potential risks in these situations.
Epidural anaesthesia, often referred to as an epidural, is an injection into the back that numbs the lower half of the body and stops any pain being felt.
Epidurals can be used to numb sensation and provide pain relief in natural childbirth, during a caeserean section and after some types of surgery.
Epidural anaesthetics are given by experienced anaesthetists, who are doctors with specialist training in providing pain relief during medical procedures.