Epidural Combined With Other Forms of Pain Management
by William Reid Camann, MD
Q. If I have an epidural, does this mean I cannot use other forms of pain management?
It is always best to approach labor with as much knowledge and information as possible! You never know just exactly how much pain will be experienced, nor how well you will cope with the pain in early labor. Some women find various methods of pain relief to be more or less effective than others, and some may want to try to avoid having an epidural altogether. Sometimes an unexpected medical complication may arise that may prevent you form receiving an epidural, although this is rare.
Whatever your plans are for pain relief during labor, it is best to have an open mind and see how things go as labor progresses. Rest assured that virtually all the various natural or complementary and alternative methods of pain relief are entirely compatible with also receiving an epidural. For example, one may want to consider sitting in a water tub (if available at your hospital) or using a shower during early labor. In addition, many women find that walking, changing positions, sitting or bouncing on a birth ball, or using hypnosis techniques are helpful during labor. Any of these techniques are perfectly acceptable to try even if you are considering using an epidural.
For those women who wish to utilize a doula, please recognize that the support, reassurance and encouragement that a professionally trained labor support person can provide are still important even if you have received an epidural. Thus, both using a doula and receiving an epidural may make for the best of both worlds - something I refer to as an "epi-doula"!
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