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What Does An Epidural Actually Feel Like?

Updated on March 22, 2017
Britta Paige profile image

Britta is a former radiologic technologist and current stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing about parenting and raising her sweet daughter.


Epidural. A very scary word to those of you who are growing a tiny human in their body. You've poured over message boards and Wikipedia pages of what it is and what to expect, but you still need more? The simple fact is that everyone has a different experience when an epidural is placed and how it later affects them, but this article will offer you a detailed outline of my experience

The Basics

First, let's start with the basics:
An “epidural” is a commonly used term referring to an epidural administration. An epidural placement is essentially a catheter inserted into the epidural space of the spinal cord. It is then that either medicine or contrast is injected, in our case, it is a numbing agent used to aid the pains of childbirth. Now let's move on the the good part.

So What Does It Actually Feel Like?

Again I'd like to preface this by restating that the experience of an epidural is completely unique to each and every woman, that being said the best part about the epidural is that I never felt it at all! After the pitocin was given via IV to jump start my labor, I started feeling light contractions and knew I would be requesting it early. I went into this pregnancy with the mindset of “I won't be feeling a thing due to drugs” during labor, and after many conversations with friends I was relieved to hear that this was possible. When the anesthesiologist arrived at my door I was elated, as the room was set up (it needs to be sterile for the procedure) my husband leaned over me and reassured me that everything would be fine. I was told to turn to the side of the bed, sitting up with feet dangling over the edge and hunch my back. The doctor then proceeded to numb the area with lidocaine (this was the only thing I could feel pain-wise when being placed) a small pinch from a tiny needle and that was all. As he began to place the catheter I felt little to nothing, although seeing such a large needle my husband promptly sat down to avoid fainting. I had a weird feeling shoot down one leg for a split second, which may or may not be normal and then I was done, easy as that. This kept me numb for several hours of labor, I could still move my legs but the pain was completely erased. Unfortunately for me the effect began to somewhat wear off leading up to pushing, and I will always regret not calling the doctor back to to adjust or replace it. If something feels off, don't hesitate to have it checked! I began feeling intense pressure an hour before my daughter arrived, by the end of it I could feel the pain of full blown labor contractions and experienced the most intense pain of my life, it had worn off to the point that I was even walking within an hour of delivering!

Whether you choose to get an epidural or not, the fear of the needle should not be a reason to turn away from this miraculous pain relieving medicine.


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