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Treatment: Epidural Anaesthesia in Labour

Epidural anaesthesia is a method of pain relief in labour. The anaesthetic is given through a catheter inserted between two of the vertebrae (bones in the spine) in the lower back. The tip of the catheter is put into the epidural space formed by membranes surrounding the spinal cord. The other end is taped to the shoulder, so that further doses can be given. The anaesthetic numbs nerves from below the waist, including those from the uterus. Intravenous fluids are given, and the baby’s heart rate is monitored.

Inside the spine

The procedure

The anaesthetic is given using a catheter. The tip of the catheter is inserted between two vertebrae in the back and into the epidural space below the spinal cord.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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