Labour pain duration is unique to every pregnancy.
For some pregnancies, it can last for as long as 16 hours or even more. As a first-time mom, enduring that magnitude of pain can be a traumatizing experience.
You get anxious, wondering how long your labour will last, and whether or not your delivery will be a safe one. The stress and anxiety could result in your blood pressure shooting up, which complicates delivery all the more.
This is where epidural comes in; it will ease your worries and reduce your pain.
Epidural can be used in both C-sections and natural deliveries. It allows you to relax through the contractions until the baby is finally ready to be born.
However, with many myths surrounding Epidural in Singapore, these facts will help you better understand it.
What is Epidural?
Epidural is a method commonly used to ease labour pain. It is an anaesthesia that is injected into the outermost membrane that surrounds the spinal canal, known as epidural space.
Also referred to as regional anaesthesia, it reduces pain in selected parts of the body.
You can choose between epidural analgesia (limits your movements), or walking epidural if you want to be able to move around.
The walking epidural is injected in a low dosage, which means inadequate pain relief. Plus, there are other risks associated with walking around while in labour, one of which is falling down.
So if you opt for walking epidural, you will need somebody around to supervise your movements.
When should epidural be administered?
The best time to give an epidural is when a woman in labour requests for pain relief. You can ask for it as soon as the labour kicks in or as it progresses.
However, it takes 10 to 30 minutes to become effective, so you might need to get it in the early stages of labour.
Fact #1: You can request for an epidural as soon as labour starts
Some women don’t ask for pain relief when labour begins for fear of prolonged labour and increased chances of C-section.
However, according to research, early administration of epidural doesn’t prolong labour nor increase the chances of C-section.
This means that it is okay to ask for pain relief early.
Fact #2: Epidural anaesthesia can regulate or reduce blood pressure
Women who develop preeclampsia during pregnancy are at risk of severe life threatening conditions during delivery. Epidural can be used to lower and normalize blood pressure for a healthy and successful delivery.
However, on the other hand, epidural can significantly lower the mother’s blood pressure, and as a result, putting the baby at risk.
This is because when your blood pressure dips, your body will work harder to keep you alive by pumping blood to vital organs like the heart and lungs.
The blood flowing towards the placenta will reduce, and that means little or no oxygen to keep your baby alive.
But, you shouldn’t worry much about this because doctors have come up with ways to regulate blood pressure in other ways so that both you and your baby will do just fine.
Fact #3: You will still feel some discomfort
Yes, epidural doesn’t eliminate all discomfort. As you get closer to delivery, the vaginal pressure will increase, and the anaesthesia won’t help much.
However, this will bring about the natural urge to push, allowing a natural birth as opposed to the use of forceps.
Fact #4: You can move around, but only on the bed
Remember, epidural analgesia will make the lower part of your body numb, so your legs won’t be working.
Again, it’s not safe to walk while in labour.
You can move, but only by changing your lying or sitting position on the bed, which will help in hastening labour progression.
Fact #5: The backache is not caused by epidural jab
Bad posture during pregnancy and after birth is responsible for the persistent back pain, not the jab.
It can affect any other mum.
Fact #6: Cost of epidural
In Singapore, epidural is an additional charge and you will have to pay for it separately. Some mums choose to go for epidural, while others can endure the pain and don’t need it.
The cost of epidural in Singapore ranges from $350 – $550, depending on the type of ward that you stay while giving birth.
Fact #7: Your bladder needs a catheter
The epidural will relieve you from the discomfort of catheter insertion, so you shouldn’t panic.
The catheter is necessary for two primary reasons: One, your legs are numb so you can’t walk to the bathroom, and two, the numbness has affected your bladder so you can’t feel when your bladder is full.
The midwife will take it out when it’s time to start pushing.
Fact #8: It is not safe for every mum
- If you have had spine problems, notify your doctor beforehand. You shouldn’t use the epidural procedure if you have undergone spine surgery, or have slipped discs.
- Women who have anaesthetic allergies should consider other pain relief options.
- Similarly, avoid the jab if you have severe infections, bleeding, and clotting problems.
Fact #9: Epidural has side effects
Epidural Hematoma – Although rare, you may have a headache. It’s commonly felt in the front part of the head. Unlike the typical headache, a spinal headache can be so severe to the point that you are unable to take care of your baby. However, it tends to subside when you lie flat.
The problem arises when the anaesthetist accidentally punctures the Dura membrane (a small membrane surrounding spinal fluid) with the epidural needle.
A tiny hole forms, allowing spinal fluid to leak out and thereby altering the pressure of fluids surrounding the brain which results in a bad headache.
The headache can resolve with time, but you can use medications to treat severe cases.
- Shivering –These are chills not associated with feeling cold. It subsides with time, and there is no need to worry.
- Nausea – Could be a direct effect of the drugs or lowering of blood pressure. The mother needs proper positioning on the bed as well as pressure boosting medicines.
- Itching – This is normal after epidural anaesthesia. It diminishes with time, so there is no need for medication.
Fact #10: It is safe
More than 60 percent of women who deliver in the hospital prefer using epidural for labour pain relief.
And it has been proven over time that the side effects and complications are rare, and if they come, they are manageable.
And So? No Pain, No Shame!
The process of making a human being and staying dedicated for nine months is hard enough. You could choose to go through labour without relief and feel every bit of it, that’s okay.
But it is also okay to ask for pain relief to help you through the labour pain.
Now that you know that epidural in Singapore is safe and effective, whatever you decide, know that there is no shame in choosing the no pain way.