Patient Resources

Having a Baby

Labor Epidural AAPAWhat is an Epidural catheter?

During epidurals for labor, an anesthesiologist inserts a small, flexible catheter into the epidural space in the lumbar area of your lower back. A small dose of local anesthetic and narcotic are infused continuously into the catheter. In addition, you will be given a button to push that will trigger up to three additional small doses per hour, as needed to manage your labor pain. By combining a low dose of the local anesthetic with a low dose of narcotic we are able to avoid the common side effects of itching and nausea. Your legs may still feel numb and the infusion may be stopped if needed to facilitate pushing.  This document contains some additional detailed information about the
epidural procedure.

Will an epidural relieve all of my labor pain?

An epidural infusion will greatly reduce the amount of pain associated with labor but rarely relieves 100% of the pain or pressure that you may experience. Each mother's labor is different. Please let your nurse know if you are experiencing pain after an epidural catheter has been inserted. Your nurse will work with the anesthesiologist to optimize your pain relief.

Can my significant other be in the room during the epidural procedure?

Yes, if they are comfortable, they may stay during the procedure. We typically ask that only one additional person be present during your procedure. If your significant other is in close proximity, we will ask them to put on a mask during the procedure.

What if I've had back surgery and still want an epidural?

Previous back surgery does not necessarily mean that you cannot have an epidural for labor pain control. However, the type of back surgery may make it difficult to place the catheter and in some instances epidural pain control may not be possible. If this occurs, other options to control your pain will be made available. It is not necessary to see an anesthesiologist before your delivery to discuss your back procedure. If possible, bring a copy of your most recent back x-rays. You will have an opportunity to discuss your history and concerns with an anesthesiologist when you arrive in the labor suite.

I had an epidural or spinal procedure and now I have a headache.

A very small number (less than 1% in our practice) of patients who receive and epidural for labor pain control or a spinal anesthetic for a c-section develop a headache.  The headache pain is usually quite severe and gets worse with standing or sitting and less severe when lying flat.  If you experience these symptoms please contact our nurse at 651-241-5317. 

I had blood patch, is there anything special I should do?

If a blood patch procedure was performed to relieve your headache symptoms there are a few simple things that we recommend to ensure the success of the blood patch in relieving your symptoms.  This document outlines these recommendations.