New Advanced Technique for Labor Pain Relief
Woodland Healthcare is pleased to introduce patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA). It is a new labor pain relief technique that puts you in control. Woodland Memorial Hospital is proud to be the only provider of patient controlled epidural analgesia in Yolo County.
We are committed to making the birth of your baby as safe, pleasant and memorable as possible. Each woman’s labor experience is different and each woman has different wishes and goals for her labor and delivery. The team of experienced certified nurse midwives and obstetricians here at Woodland Healthcare aim to work with you to provide you with the experience you are looking for.
There are many techniques in coping with labor discomfort. Some women achieve adequate relief with breathing and relaxation techniques learned from childbirth classes. Some women choose to labor in water or to have intravenous pain medications. However, many women fi nd these techniques inadequate or unsatisfactory and choose to have additional relief by using a regional block.
Regional blocks include epidurals, intrathecals and PCEA. A regional block is an injection given in the lower back area by an anesthesiologist. These blocks can provide full or signifi cant relief of painful sensations in the lower part of your body. These blocks are very popular because they are safe and effective.
What is patient controlled epidural analgesia?
PCEA is a type of regional block like the epidural but with the major advantage of allowing you, the patient, to control your own dosing of medication. To place the PCEA, you are either sitting or lying on your side. The skin is then cleaned and a local anesthesia is given in the lower back to numb a small area of the skin. Then, the anesthesiologist will introduce a small flexible tube into a specific area in your lower back through a special small needle. The needle is removed once the tube is in place. Pain medication is then given through this tube for the rest of your labor and delivery. You are also given a button to push if you need more medication. You cannot give yourself too much medication. You no longer need to ask the nurse for more pain medicine. The control is in your hands.
How soon will it work and how long will it last?
The onset of pain relief is gradual and usually begins within 5-15 minutes. Because you have control of your own medication delivery, you can have it for as long as you need it. Of course, your baby, your labor and your comfort are monitored and evaluated frequently. Your medication use is also evaluated and adjusted accordingly. After the baby is born, the catheter is easily removed from your back and within a few hours, sensations will return to normal. In some cases, PCEA can also be used if a Cesarean section is needed to deliver your baby.
How will I feel with the block?
Significant pain relief in the lower body will occur. You will sense some degree of heaviness or weakness in your legs. You may also feel pressure as your labor progresses. Because the medications only provide blockage of sensation in the lower region of your body, you will remain awake and alert.
How will PCEA affect my baby?
A lot of research has been done to show PCEA, intrathecals and epidurals are very safe for mom and baby. In fact, studies have shown that by allowing patient control of medication use, less total medication is actually used when compared to traditional epidurals. Because less overall medication is used, patients experience fewer side effects such as a temporary drop in blood pressure. A drop in mom’s blood pressure can sometimes affect blood flow to the baby.
How will PCEA affect my labor?
PCEA generally does not prolong your labor. It also does not increase your risk for cesarean delivery or operative delivery with vaccum or forceps. In fact, several studies show that it reduces your risk for these more diffi cult deliveries.
PCEA allows you the opportunity to rest during the longest part of labor where the cervix becomes completely dilated. Then, when it is time to begin pushing, you are usually a little more rested. Many women can feel pressure or urge to push. Even if you do not feel the strong urge to push, you should be able to do so with instruction. Many women feel that they push more effectively knowing that it won’t be uncomfortable.
You’re in control...
At Woodland Healthcare, we offer a variety of effective ways to relieve labor discomfort. They can be as simple and effective as breathing techniques or as sophisticated as a patient controlled epidural analgesia. Your wishes and your medical condition are important in selecting the type of pain relief you receive. Your team of certified nurse midwives and obstetricians are dedicated to working with you to provide a safe and pleasant birthing experience.
We hope to meet your needs, whatever they may be. We welcome you to discuss your wishes and choices with your obstetrics provider.