Everything You Need To Know About Epidurals As An African Mom


Epidurals are relatively new to the Nigerian medical scene. It's understandable that you'd hear scary stories about getting an epidural in this part of the world or that you'd be nervous going in as a pregnant mom. Still, epidurals are one of the best scientific aids available for moms. 



What is an epidural?

An epidural is a numbing drug or medicine commonly known as anaesthesia used to provide central pain relief during labour and delivery. It is a medication injected into the spinal cord at the lower back. Epidurals are used for pain control.



How does an epidural work?

Epidurals are administered through a catheter, which is then run through a large needle inserted into the space between the spinal cord known as the epidural space. The anaesthetic then goes into the body via the catheter, which is placed in the epidural space. 


A small pump is used for regulation and to continually pump the medicine into the body, giving a constant amount of medicine. The drug works by travelling through the epidural space and blocking nerve signals, stopping these signals from reaching the brain.



When to get an epidural

A pregnant woman can get an epidural anytime during labour except when the baby is already very close to being delivered. This means once the cervix is opened or dilated, an epidural can be administered. The epidural time depends on when the mother prefers it beyond the exception.



What type of epidural is used for delivery in Nigeria?

The standard epidural is used in Nigeria, especially for delivery, as it is the one which involves injecting local anaesthetics into the epidural space.



How to prepare for an epidural

First and foremost, you should mentally prepare for an epidural. Following that, it's critical to listen to your healthcare provider and follow their instructions. 


Here are a few other ways you can prepare for an epidural: 


  • Avoid eating or drinking for at least 6 hours before the procedure.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions when adjusting medications like blood thinners.
  • Have someone by your side to support and care for you.



Does epidural cause back pain after delivery?

An epidural causes temporary back pain that subsides a few days after delivery. It rarely causes chronic back pain that lasts for a long time, but most mothers will experience back pain after childbirth due to the pelvis and bones returning to their original positions. 


How much does an epidural cost in Nigeria?

An epidural typically costs around 300,000-400,000 Naira in private hospitals around Nigeria. These prices may vary depending on which hospital you deliver your child. However, you must ensure your delivery is in a reputable healthcare institution.



Who shouldn't get an epidural during delivery?

People with certain health conditions cannot be administered an epidural. Due to this, it's crucial to relay every information to your healthcare provider so they can make informed decisions. 


Some people who should not get an epidural during delivery include:


  • People who are experiencing blood clotting issues
  • Patients with poorly managed diabetic issues
  • Patients with anaesthetic drug allergies
  • People who just recently had significant surgery around their back
  • People with infections around their back
  • Persons on certain blood thinners


Benefits of epidurals

 The benefits of using an epidural during delivery include: 


  • Epidurals are very effective in minimizing pain.
  • They are generally safe methods of delivery.
  • They can help one sleep and recover strength, especially during prolonged labour
  • A labour epidural can be obtained at any point.
  • They are effective for longer surgical periods.
  • They help in maintaining alertness.


Side effects of epidurals

Some of the side effects associated with using an epidural include:

  • Numbness in the lower body
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Temporary difficulty urinating
  • Tenderness and bruise at the site of epidural.
  • Itching 
  • Weakness in the legs
  • Decreased blood pressure


While epidurals make childbirth more manageable and less painful, the decision to use them or not is ultimately up to you, the mother. Discuss your options with your healthcare provider, and keep an open mind to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each option.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  1. Will I feel my baby coming out with an epidural?

Yes, you will feel the pressure of your baby coming out of the birth canal.


  1. How much cm dilation should I get an epidural injection?

The minimum dilation you should have is a 1 cm dilation before you get an epidural injection. 


  1. Will I be able to push my baby out after an epidural injection?

Yes, you will be able to push your baby after an epidural injection. 

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