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What is an epidural?

Epidural analgesia is an injection of a narcotic medication into the epidural space in the lower back through tiny plastic tubing. Anesthesiologists will first place a needle into this epidural space and the tiny tubing is inserted through the needle. The needle is then removed and the tubing remains in the space. The tubing is then taped against the skin so it will not fall out. 

There may be one narcotic medication or a combination of medications that are then slowly and continually, infused through the tubing. This results in effective relief of pain, by stopping pain nerves in your back from sending pain signals to your brain.

It takes ten to twenty minutes for the epidural to reduce your pain. The effect on sensation and the amount of numbness that you might experience differs from person to person. Some patients may have normal sensation and movement while others may experience numbness and weakness in your legs.

In addition to the continual administration of the narcotic medication, you will be given a special machine called a PCEA (Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia) pump. If your pain should increase, this machine will allow you to press a button and a safe amount of additional medication will be delivered to control your pain.

For more information about your delivery options or any other services, please call Heywood Hospital’s LaChance Maternity Center at 978-630-­6216.