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Epidurals- Should You Get One?

Epidurals- Should You Get One?


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You get that exciting second line on your pregnancy test, it’s exciting, scary as hell and life changing! And after the initial excitement wears off you start thinking about other things like epidurals, circumcisions, formula and other controversial topics.

I was always surprised at how strongly people felt about getting epidurals. Either you got the I wouldn’t go through labor without one or epidurals are not good for you, I’d never do that!

A friend of mine put it aptly-

In any other pain filled situation, as soon as you walk in the hospital doors they pump you full of painkillers. And rightly so, you’re in a lot of pain!

But as soon as it’s because you are in labor, it becomes this weird stigma’d (is that a word?) choice.

The actual definition of an epidural is: regional anesthetic that isolates pain relief to the lower body by blocking the nerve roots.

Have you taken an prenatal class yet?

Something I truly regret is not taking a well done prenatal class. I took the one offered at the hospital but they didn’t tell me about natural birth techniques, skin to skin or delayed cord clamping.

Knowledge is POWER. Hilary is offering a free online prenatal class– she’s been an OB nurse since 2001. Her course is meant to simplify labor and empower YOU, momma, no matter what you choose for your birth. You can grab her prenatal class here.




  • Heavy, dead feeling
  • Combination of narcotic (fentanyl or morphine) and anesthesia (bupivacaine, chloroprocaine or lidocaine)
  • Unable to move other than side to side


  • Combination of narcotics, local anesthetic and epinephrine
  • Some sensation left in lower body
  • Able to assume a position on all fours and take the pressure off the back
  • A bit of a misnomer because you probably won’t be walking around but you can get into other positions and move more than the standard epidural.
facts about epidurals

Advantages of Epidurals:


This is the first thing for a reason. I got an epidural with 2 out of 3 pregnancies and with those two labors, it made sense and helped SO MUCH. You go from horrendous pain, unable to think, unable to rest or do anything to –

  • Being able to visit.
  • Have fluids and snacks.
  • REST (which is so needed when you are going through a long labor)
  • Gather your strength for the hardest stage of all- pushing out your sweet bundle of joy.

This being said, with my first baby, the epidural actually missed a giant spot on one side of my back. So I was able to rest somewhat but still not quite because I could feel all that pain in an isolated spot. This is common and happens to a lot of women.

RELATED: 11 Ways To Induce Labor (fast!)


Maybe this should be first… haha.

But seriously, if you are pregnant and haven’t experienced a birth yet then I don’t want to scare you but it is very painful.

The sooner that you accept that though, the better.

It’s easy to kind of lie to yourself and say it can’t be THAT bad, right??

It is that bad. I’m so sorry to tell you that.


the good news is that you do have the option of the epidural. If you are not wanting to get one but do anyway- let the guilt go. It isn’t going to serve you.

Here’s a positive birth story for you, one that I have weirdly been ashamed to tell other moms because apparently we all like to wallow in how awful birth is-

With my son, I asked for an epidural right away. I knew what I wanted! And to be perfectly honest with you, it was an amazing birth experience. I chatted with my husband, I drank some fresh green juice. The doctor said push, I pushed. My 9lb baby boy slid into this world like a dream, in under 3 minutes of pushing. I was happy, there were no tears (from pain, anway.) This experience is what made me totally unafraid of having a 3rd baby!

I tell you this to let you know that there are positive birth stories out there

RELATED: What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag (that’s realistic)

RELATED: Dad/Birth Partner Hospital Bag Checklist


Because your whole world isn’t taken over by extreme pain and distress, you are can pay more attention be alert during your labor.

With my 3rd baby, I didn’t have the chance to get an epidural and I remember literally just flashes of what was going on. The nurse at one point almost yelled at me YOU HAVE GOT TO TAKE A BREATH, BREEEAATTHHHEEEE. 

So I missed being able to know what was going on at all with this last labor and delivery. I definitely liked being able to breathe, focus and talk with my husband and nurses.



HYPOTENSION (drop in blood pressure)

Epidurals can cause a drop in blood pressure due to the anesthetic used because it blocks the nerves that regulate blood pressure. 

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common side effects. However, because this is known, preventative measures are taken before getting the epidural to combat the low blood pressure.

RELATED: Breastfeeding Must Haves (No fluff!)


This is called a post dural puncture and the chances of it happening are about 1 in 200. It will clear up on it’s own in a couple of weeks after delivery however, it it’s really bad, you may have to go in for a procedure called an epidural blood patch where they take blood and inject it near the puncture so that it will clot and heal.


There was a study done in 2014 that found labor could be up to 2 hours longer for women who had an epidural vs those who did not.

It can also increase the pushing phase by 15 minutes.

RELATED: How To Have A Fast Labor and Delivery


Every woman is different and can experience varying degrees of numbness for varying degrees of time. With my daughter I could barely walk and was slightly numb for a couple hours after delivery.

With my son, I could stand and take a shower after nursing him for an hour after delivery with no issues and no need for assistance.

RELATED: The Shocking Truth About Postpartum Recovery


The evidence is unclear on how much of an affect they can have. Some of the things they may affect are:

  • Delay of milk coming in- this study showed that women who had an epidural were 1-2 times more likely to notice a delay.
  • Dulling your baby’s feeding behavior- normally they are alert for 1-2 hours right after birth but medication from the epidural can dull their senses.
  • Swelling of breast tissue due to the IV fluids needed for the epidural which can make it harder for them to latch.

I’ve had two epidurals. With my first baby, I did have a rough time with breastfeeding but I did not think it was from the epidural. I’m pretty sure it’s because it was my first baby and I had no idea what I was doing.

With my son and second epidural, I had ZERO trouble with latching and breastfeeding.

I think it’s important that you know the risks, be prepared and get ready for anything.

RELATED: How To Breastfeed (tips for first time moms)

Does Getting An Epidural Hurt?

Short answer? Yes.

Long answer-

If you are in labor and you’re asking for an epidural- chances are you’re already in pain. The two times I got an epidural I was terrified- but I was more terrified of the pain and intensity of my contractions.

So yes, it hurts because you are getting a needle put into your spine. But the relief it brings is SO worth it and you may not even really notice because being in labor takes over all of your capacity to think.

Are Epidurals Safe?

Here’s some perspective for you-

Every time you get in your car to go somewhere, you have a 1 in 103 chance of being in a car accident. That’s not to scare you. Anything you do involves risk.

Epidurals have been improved tenfold since they first came about and for the most part, you will be just fine!

Honestly, going through a labor and birth without one was not something I wanted to do. But, I didn’t have a choice and now that it’s over and done, I can actually say I’m super proud I did it. So if you get an epidural, great and if you don’t, great!

You know the risks involved and I wish you an empowered birthing experience, no matter what your decision ❤

More Labor and Postpartum Tips:


facts about epidurals


Friday 1st of November 2019

This is was a good article with great information but I just wanted to say birth does not have to be painful, I decided to do the hypnobirthing method (read the book hypnobirthing by Marie mongan) it teaches you how to breath and relax: towards the end it did get to be pretty intense pressure wise but I would not say it was painful. For anyone wanting to have a natural birth without the pain read her book and take a class if you can find one!


Wednesday 6th of November 2019

Hey Ashley, Thanks so much! I will definitely be looking into hypnobirth if I have another baby, that sounds amazing! Thanks so much for sharing❤


Sunday 25th of August 2019

Wonderful article! Thank you for this! I just want to say first off, with or without an epidural, be proud of yourselves mamas! You all worked hard to bring your baby into the world and that's amazing! I just wanted to share my experience, because I think decisions like these need to come from a sense of understanding. I chose to get an epidural. Despite everyone telling me that the epidural would be excruciating, and that it was bad for me, bad for my baby, etc. I did a lot of research, spoke with my OBs and pediatrician, and decided this was the right decision for me. I was in labor for a total of 31 hours, the last 3 before we finally went to the hospital was truly the worst pain I've ever felt. Definitely more than the car accident that shattered several of my bones. My anesthesiologist had the hands of a goddess, and recieving the epidural did not hurt any more than having blood drawn (I am aware not everyone is so lucky). After the epidural, I was able to rest with my husband for a few hours before having to push, but otherwise I was fully aware, I did not feel drugged up, and I truly got to enjoy childbirth the way I know I could not have otherwise. I have no pain tolerance. The reason I wanted to share MY story is several points: every one is different, be very aware of that, my story may be different than someone else's. Several people told me that having the epidural was like being knocked out on drugs. I didn't feel that way at all. I was highly alert, beautifully pain free, and did not experience side effects. But also I dont like it when people try to sugar coat how painful birth can be. Some women's bodies are shaped differently and can handle it better, and some women have a higher pain tolerance. If you cant handle the pain, there is no shame in accepting help from your doctors. But on the other hand, if you truly desire natural pain management, dont be bullied into an epidural by a well-intentioned, though out of line nurse. You have to do what is best for you, your family, and your birth experience, you will be the one remembering this better than anyone! Thanks again for such a lovely and understanding article!


Monday 26th of August 2019

I truly appreciate your comment Cait! Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story. I completely agree, every woman is so different and deserves to have a positive birth experience, whatever that means for HER! Much love to you ❤