An epidural is a form of anesthesia used primarily in childbirth to numb the lower half of the body. It is administered via an injection into the epidural space of the spine, reducing sensation and pain experienced by the mother during labor. It can also be used during certain surgical procedures.

Key Takeaways

  1. Epidural anesthesia is a popular choice amongst mothers during childbirth as it can effectively manage pain during labor. It involves injecting anesthetic drugs into the epidural space within the spinal cord which numbs the lower body.
  2. The epidural does not completely erase pain but significantly reduces it, making labor more comfortable. It allows the mother to stay alert and active in the childbirth process. However, it might prolong the second stage of labor and sometimes leads to assisted birth where forceps or vacuum extraction is used.
  3. While epidurals are generally considered safe, like any medical procedure, they do come with risks and side effects. These can include low blood pressure, itchy skin, and temporary soreness in the back. Rare but serious risks include nerve injury and severe headache.


The term “epidural” is of significant importance in the context of motherhood as it pertains to a common form of pain management used during childbirth.

An epidural is a type of anesthesia that is administered through an injection in the lower back into the “epidural space” where the nerves branch out from the spinal cord.

This approach numbs the lower part of the woman’s body, substantially reducing or even eliminating the intense pain experienced during labor and delivery.

Epidurals allow mothers to have a more comfortable and manageable birthing experience.

However, like any medical procedure, it comes with potential risks and side effects, and its usage should be a discussion between the mother and her healthcare provider.


Epidural is a significant term in the realm of motherhood and childbirth, known for its purpose of offering pain relief during labor. Typically administered by an anesthesiologist, an epidural is a regional anesthesia that blocks pain in a particular part of the body – the lower body in this case, reducing or eliminating the discomfort that comes during the contractions.

When a woman opts for an epidural, she is seeking to alleviate the intense pain associated with labor, making the childbirth process more manageable and less distressing. The use of an epidural serves more than just mitigating labor pain; it also allows the expecting mother to rest if the labor is prolonged, which can provide her with the necessary strength to push when the time comes.

Additionally, if an emergency arises necessitating a quick switch to a cesarean section (C-section), an epidural allows for such a transition without the need for general anesthesia. Therefore, the primary purpose of an epidural in the context of motherhood is to ensure the mother is as comfortable as possible during labor and delivery, thereby making the birthing process less physically strenuous or traumatic.

Examples of Epidural

During Labor and Delivery: Probably the most common real-world example of the term epidural is during childbirth. Many women opt for an epidural anesthetic to help manage the pain of labor and delivery. This is administered into the epidural space around the spinal cord and numbs the body below the waist.

Post-Surgical Pain Management: Some mothers might receive an epidural for pain management after a C-section or major abdominal surgery. The epidural would provide effective pain relief, allowing the new mother to rest and recover more comfortably.

Treating Chronic Back Pain: While not directly related to motherhood, another real-world example involves women who suffer from severe chronic back pain. In some cases, an epidural steroid injection may be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain. This would indirectly support a mother’s capacity and mobility to care for her child.

Epidural FAQ

What is an Epidural?

An epidural is a form of anesthesia commonly used to provide pain relief during labor. It’s administered through a small tube inserted in the lower back, numbing the lower part of the body.

When is an Epidural given during childbirth?

An epidural can be given at any stage of labour, but it is usually given once the cervix has dilated to at least 4-5 centimeters. The exact timing can depend on individual circumstances and preferences.

What are the risks of having an Epidural?

Some of the risks associated with epidurals include temporary low blood pressure, headaches, and slight fever. In rare cases, there can be more serious complications like nerve damage but this is extremely unlikely.

Can I walk after receiving an Epidural?

With a standard epidural, feeling in the legs will be dramatically reduced, making walking difficult or impossible. But with a special type of epidural known as a “walking epidural”, some women may be able to move around with assistance.

Can receiving an Epidural slow the progress of my labor?

Studies have shown that an epidural might slightly slow down labor, but it doesn’t increase the likelihood of a cesarean delivery. Individual experiences can vary.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Anesthesia
  • Childbirth
  • Pain relief
  • Labor
  • Cesarean section

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic – Their articles provide comprehensive and authoritative medical information.
  • WebMD – This resource provides valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support to those who seek information.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynacologists (ACOG) – They provide a wealth of resources on various aspects of women’s health, including pregnancy and childbirth.
  • National Health Service (NHS) – The UK’s biggest health website, providing a wealth of information on a wide range of health topics.