Epidural and Regional Anesthesia

Norton Healthcare delivers more babies in Louisville and Southern Indiana than any other provider. We offer a range of options for your birth plan, including epidural.

At Norton Healthcare, we believe in working with you to create the specific birth plan you want. We also are prepared for the unexpected and can provide the care you may need.

Norton Healthcare offers a wide variety of pain management choices. We offer regional anesthesia, including epidural, spinal or systemic anesthesia. We also offer options such as nitrous oxide or the use of a labor tub.

What is regional anesthesia?

This type of pain relief is placed near the nerves in your lower back to “block” pain in a wide region of your body. The types include:

  • Epidural. A thin plastic tube or catheter is placed in your back, allowing you to receive pain relief medicine as you need it. The tube is left in place during your labor. Should you need a cesarean birth (C-section), a stronger dose can be given.
  • Spinal. The most common type of anesthesia used during planned C-sections. A local anesthetic is placed using a single injection. It works quickly, and only a small dose is needed.
  • Combined spinal-epidural (CSE). This is a combination of an epidural and a spinal. The spinal will work quickly, but you can also receive more pain relief as needed. This technique, sometimes called a “walking epidural,” allows for more mobility during labor.

Who performs regional anesthesia?

An anesthesiologist performs an epidural and other forms of regional anesthesia. Ask your anesthesiologist if you have questions about how the medicines are administered or how it will feel. Norton Healthcare has the region’s only anesthesiologists dedicated exclusively to obstetrics.

How epidurals work

Epidural is the most commonly used pain management option during labor and delivery. It alleviates pain while allowing you to remain fully awake.

It only takes a couple of minutes for an anesthesiologist to insert an epidural. The skin is numbed first, so you’ll feel just a stick and some pressure. You should begin feeling the effects of the medicine in 10 to 20 minutes.

The pressure of contractions may still be present, but they should not feel painful. As the doctor adjusts the dosage, your legs may feel weak, numb or heavy. An epidural should not reduce your ability to push.

The epidural catheter will stay in place throughout your labor and delivery.

Possible side effects of an epidural

While epidurals are a safe and effective pain relief option, they do come with some potential side effects, including:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mild itchiness

Ample research has shown that an epidural is safe for you and your baby. On rare occasions, however, distress may occur. Typically this would be the result of your lowered blood pressure causing a slower heartbeat in your baby.

After delivery

As the epidural wears off after delivery, your legs might be weak and tingly for several hours. Once you are comfortable walking, you should ask for help until your legs feel back to normal.

Your back might be sore where the epidural was inserted, but that should subside within a few days.

We are prepared

If an unexpected emergency arises during labor, Norton Healthcare is prepared to offer the best possible care.

  • Our Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital and Norton Children’s Hospital both house neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Our downtown NICU has the highest available rating: Level IV.
  • Our maternal-fetal medicine specialists provide specialized care for complications associated with multiple births, premature labor, maternal hypertension, diabetes and other issues related to baby or mom.
  • We staff 24-hour on-site neonatologists for babies who need advanced medical care.
  • We have the region’s only anesthesiologists dedicated exclusively to obstetrics.
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