Having a baby is a major, life-changing event for you and your partner. You may have expectations of the child birth experience and we at POSA are committed to making this as safe and comfortable as possible.
We provide anaesthesia for labour and delivery, as well as caesarean sections.
Types of Pain Control for Labour
What pain relief is available?
It may be difficult to know what pain relief option will best suit you during your labour. Here are some options which you may consider:
Nitrous Oxide (Entenox)
Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA)
What is an Epidural?
An epidural is a plastic tube inserted in your lower back via a needle guide. Medicine is administered through this tube throughout your labour to ensure adequate pain relief. This will allow you to have a more relaxed and relatively pain free labour experience.
What is involved in getting an Epidural?
At any stage during labour, an epidural may be provided on your request. An anaesthestist will be called in who will be able to deliver this service. They will discuss the risks of the procedure, obtain your consent and proceed to set up for the epidural placement. An epidural may be administered in the sitting or lying position. When ready, the anaesthetist will clean your back with antiseptic solution. They will then give you a small local anaesthetic injection to numb the skin of your back. This will ensure the procedure is relatively painless. The plastic tubing will be inserted and left in your back for ongoing pain relief. Pain medicine will be delivered via this device but may take up to 20 mins to take full effect.
When pain relief is achieved you may also experience some weakness in your legs. For safety reasons, you will not be allowed to walk after receiving the epidural and you will need to have a urinary catheter. During your labour, medicine may be administered in 2 ways:
- Continuous infusion
- Intermittent infusion administered by pressing a button controlled by you
The choice between these 2 methods depends on hospital protocols. Stronger pain medicine may be administered via the epidural in the event you require a Caesarian section.
What are the risks associated with having an Epidural?
- Failure (a repeat epidural may be offered)
- Partial block (measures will be taken to correct this including offering a repeat epidural as a last resort)
- Low blood pressure
- Post Dural Puncture Headache (a particular type of headache which may occur after having a spinal or epidural)
- Minor nerve injury (this often resolves within days)
- Localised bleeding
- Major nerve injury resulting in permanent nerve damage or paralysis (this is extremely rare and often due to either localised bleeding or infection)
- Drug reaction or toxicity
Complications do not occur often and rarely lead to significant problems for either the mother or the baby. Your anaesthesist will discuss these risks with you and any other questions you may have at any time. Please note that there are some situations where an epidural is strongly advised and other situations where an epidural is not appropriate
Anaesthesia for Caesarian Section
There are several methods of providing anaesthesia for a Caesarian section:
- Spinal anaesthesia (for elective and semi-urgent situations)
- Epidural top-up anaesthesia (for patients who already have a working epidural)
- General anaesthesia (for elective and emergency situations)
Caesarian sections are usually done with a spinal block (also known as a subarachnoid block). This allows both mother to be awake and partner to be present during the delivery. It also allows additional safety for the baby. The procedure and risks are similar to those for an epidural. A spinal is different from an epidural because a spinal is a single injection in your lower back without the use of a catheter, and the medicine is administered in a different place in your back. If a labouring patient has an epidural and subsequently requires a Caesarian section, the epidural can be used to provide anaesthesia. General anaesthesia may be performed in extreme emergencies, certain medical conditions or rarely due to patient preference.
Your anaesthetist will discuss your individual risks with you. We encourage you to raise your specific questions and concerns with them prior to your procedure.