The hard part, the art part of an epidural, is getting exactly what you want with the epidural. You might order completely numb and still feel contractions. Or vice verse. About 80% of women say that their epidurals worked adequately. Some women find that they had very little pain relief, either completely or partially, known as a window. A window is where you have one small area that you are not numb at all. This can be simply an anatomy issue with your body. The anesthetist may be able to help you, or you may need to rely on other comfort measures or IV medications to assist you.
Many women are able to sleep or at least rest with an epidural. Some women feel when they are having contractions, but don't feel pain with the epidural. Supporting a woman with an epidural may be different than you thought.
When it comes to pushing with an epidural, you should be able to have some feeling to feel to push. Many practitioners recommend the process of laboring down, or letting the baby come down on its own without a lot of pushing on your part. In this case you wouldn't start pushing until the baby had descended well into your pelvis.
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