Dr. Reitzel describes epidural anesthesia and shares if the epidural catheter remains in a woman's back until the baby is delivered.
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What an Epidural Anesthesia Is Epidural anesthesia is very similar to an IV. It’s a little tiny catheter about as thick as your hair that goes in your back and it lays down next to the nerves that cause the pain that you have with contractions. What that little catheter then allows us to do is allows us to use numbing medicine like the dentist uses on your teeth, to anesthetize just those specific nerves that are causing the pain that you have. That’s different than IV anesthesia because medicine that comes in through the IV can make both mom and the baby sleepy and we want the babies to come out bright-eyed and bushy tailed. So as a consequence just like when you go to the dentist and the dentist numbs your teeth, we use numbing medicine to numb up just those specific nerves and as a consequence moms awake, baby comes out awake also. For a traditional epidural anesthetic, the needle is only in your back for a very short period of time and that allows us to have a conduit to thread a flexible plastic catheter that remains in through the duration of your pregnancy. So once we get you comfortable, and we should help to keep you comfortable until the delivery process is done.