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Epidural for plus-size women?

Is it true that epidurals don’t work as well for plus-size or overweight women?


Is it true that epidurals don’t work as well for plus-size or overweight women?

The Bump Expert

Nope. Epidurals can be your pain-blocking friend, no matter your size or shape. They’ll work whether you’re large or small, short or tall. That’s because, for the most part, once the epidural has been administered, you’ll likely be the one in control of just how much of the drugs you get. Today, the majority of hospitals use something called patient-controlled analgesia, or PCA -- so if you start feeling pain, you just push a little button. The meds themselves are run through an infusion bag, so the medication will last as long as you need it to (which we’re hoping for you isn’t too terribly long).

In some cases, depending on how the woman carries her weight, it can be a little more difficult for the anesthesiologist to find the perfect place to insert the needle into the epidural space (the small area outside the spinal canal where the nerves exit from the spinal cord). But even if it takes her a handful of tries, you probably won’t feel more than a slightly achy sensation since that spot will already be numb from a local anesthetic. Then, once the epidural is in place, all you need to do is focus on the good stuff: a safe, healthy delivery.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Top 10 Labor and Delivery Fears

Do many people face complications from epidurals?

Tool: Birth Plan

The Bump expert: Christy Morgan, MD, obstetrical anesthesiologist, Mercy Hospital, St. Louis

Epidural for plus-size women?

Most women don't experience any side-effects after getting an epidural. A headache is probably the most common side effect and can happen if the needle used to place the epidural catheter accidentally punctures the dural membrane of the spine. This puncturing causes the leakage of cerebrospinal fluid and leads to what’s known as a spinal headache. But not to worry -- it only happens in 1-2% of epidural catheter placements. While it was initially thought that the epidural is associated with back pain after delivery, more recent data shows no link between the two. And thankfully, nerve damage is a very rare complication that most moms never have to deal with. In other rare cases, if the epidural needle accidently punctures a blood vessel, this can cause bleeding around the spinal cord (which is a spinal or epidural hematoma). In this situation, pressure from the collecting blood can place pressure on the nerves and spinal cord and cause permanent injury to nerves. But again, spinal or epidural hematomas are very rare, and have only been found to occur in 1 out of 200,000 OB patients who receive an epidural. Stacy: The Bump expert @: MD, obstetrical anesthesiologist

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