This article will actually focus on a particular aspect of pain relief in labor, the ultra low dose epidural, frequently called the walking epidural.
Q. What is the difference between the walking epidural and the regular epidural?
A. The differences lie in both the procedure and the medications used. The walking epidural is a combination of spinal and epidural analgesia. While the medications, often referred to as a cocktail, are a narcotic, a local anesthetic and epinephrine, used in smaller amounts than the regular Epidurals. (See Procedure.)
Q. If I can walk, what can I feel?
A. The walking epidural is not designed to make you feel deadened. It is designed to provide enough pain relief that you are comfortable and yet still aware of the contractions.
Q. Can I really walk?
A. This really depends, women receiving the walking epidural will not be able to walk for the following reasons: woman refuses (15-25%), leg weakness (often described as not feeling normal), and maternal hypotension (low blood pressure). Some facilities do not allow you to walk.
Q. Why would I want to walk in labor?
A. Ambulation and mobility promote contractions and therefore labor, decrease pain, shorten labor, and increase the vaginal delivery rate. This type of medication will actually give her more control over her body as opposed to the classic epidural.
Q. What about extra interventions or complications from the walking epidural?
A. Every medication that you take will reach the baby and have potential side effects on you, labor and your baby. These are comparable to the classic epidural.
Q. What if I need more medication or a cesarean birth?
A. The catheter is left in place in your back so that additional medication could be administered for either additional pain relief or a surgical birth.
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