Who can have an epidural?
Epidurals provide excellent pain relief during labour. They are especially useful when other forms of pain relief have not been effective. Epidurals can also be recommended by your obstetrician for certain reasons:
- When a forceps or caesarean delivery is thought likely
- When contractions are not co-ordinated
- To relax the mother and help labour progress
- To lower high blood pressure
- For premature babies, twins or breech births
- For some mothers with heart, lung or other medical issues
There is no specific time that an epidural can be inserted – each labour is assessed on an individual basis.
For certain medical conditions/reasons an epidural may not be suitable. These include, but are not limited to, spina bifida, abnormalities with blood clotting, severe pre-eclampsia, and previous back surgery. If known in advance, your obstetrician can refer you to see one of our anaesthetists well before you go into labour. This will allow us to formulate a plan for your upcoming analgesia and anaesthesia prior to delivery.
If you are overweight, an epidural may be more difficult and may take longer to put in place – but once inserted and working, you will have all the benefits.