The nerves that transmit the pain of contractions travel from the uterus and vagina to the spinal cord. Epidural anesthetic is used to partially or completely numb these nerves, blocking the sensation of pain. With an epidural anesthetic, a needle is inserted into the area just outside the fluid-filled sac that contains the nerves, and a narrow plastic tube called an “epidural catheter” is placed there. Local anesthetic, narcotic pain medicine, or a combination of the two, are injected through the catheter.
There are other forms of pain medication available during delivery. Be sure to check with your healthcare team about which options are best for you.