Walking Epidural?

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AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831
Walking Epidural?

I had a regular epidural for my last birth and while I had no complications, they kept telling me to push when I felt the urge. I never felt the urge...and it was so hard to push when I was completely numb.

Has anyone had a walking epidural? How was it? How much pain did you experience? Would be awesome if anyone has experienced both and can compare.

kridda_88's picture
Joined: 01/28/08
Posts: 1798

That's basically what my Epidural turned into with my first, though it was supposed to be a full epidural. I loved being able to move my legs and stuff on my own, mostly, and feel the urge to push, though it was very light but still there. You still "feel" the contractions, the pressure of them but they're isn't any discomfort involved. If you need more numbing though they can come back in and give you the higher dose.

lesleynka's picture
Joined: 04/26/11
Posts: 1845

I am pretty sure I had a walking epidural w/ mine. I was able to get up & walk to the restroom by myself once the birth was done.

I stopped feeding myself the drug a bit before I began pushing so I was able to have more control. I think it worked great & will ask for it again if I end up needing/wanting drugs.

Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 1346

Not many anesthesiologists, at least not in the US, are trained in walking epidurals. Epidurals go into the epidural space. A walking epidural goes into the subarachnoid (spinal) space providing pain relief while preserving musculoskeletal function. At the hospital where I work... and we have over 50 operating rooms, there is only 1 or 2 anesthesiologists who do them.

I had an epidural with my son for the last hour or so of my labor, but it was low dose. I had no trouble moving my legs, getting out of bed after, and I could feel every single contraction. My epidural just took away the intense pain I was having. It was also the first time I stopped vomiting through the entire labor. I felt very fortunate to avoid all the things people talk about, like feeling paralyzed. I still had total control, just no pain.

Unless your hospital offers a walking epidural, your best bet is to just ask for a low dose of the medicine. You can always increase the dose if you need more pain control!

"walking epidural" has often become a street term for a low dose epidural even though they are not the same thing. Technically a walking epidural is different from an epidural because medication goes into the subarachnoid spinal space.

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831

Thanks so much for the replies! I knew they were different medications, but I didn't realize that they went in different locations.

I think whatever the result, I'd like a lower dose. The epidural last time was great...but it was almost like I wasn't in labor at all any more. I didn't mind the contractions at all until they got so strong that I couldn't breathe any more. I really just needed some of the edge off the severity of my contractions so I could breathe. I don't want to feel quite so passive this time around.

Joined: 06/29/07
Posts: 144

I got an epidural last time, but they must have done low dose because I could really feel the urge to push. If I do need one again this time then I will specifically ask for the low dose, it really dulled the pain of the contractions, but didn't slow down my labor at all. The doctor said that only thing she didn't like about my epidural was that it didn't numb down there so she had to numb it when she did a couple stitches.

JuneorJulyBaby?'s picture
Joined: 10/20/08
Posts: 2479

My epidural was a really strong one. That is the one thing I didn't like about it. I couldn't move my legs and when they had to turn me to the other side every 30 min DH and the nurse literally had to do it all for me. I hated it at the time but it wore down a little and I was able to tell when to push. I couldn't walk until 4 hours after delivery when it finally wore off. I might ask for a low dose next time but I think it is anesthesiologist dependent. The nurse told me my anes. gave "strong" epis before he was even in there.

clio's picture
Joined: 11/05/07
Posts: 590

"Carolyn85" wrote:

Not many anesthesiologists, at least not in the US, are trained in walking epidurals. Epidurals go into the epidural space. A walking epidural goes into the subarachnoid (spinal) space providing pain relief while preserving musculoskeletal function. At the hospital where I work... and we have over 50 operating rooms, there is only 1 or 2 anesthesiologists who do them.

I had an epidural with my son for the last hour or so of my labor, but it was low dose. I had no trouble moving my legs, getting out of bed after, and I could feel every single contraction. My epidural just took away the intense pain I was having. It was also the first time I stopped vomiting through the entire labor. I felt very fortunate to avoid all the things people talk about, like feeling paralyzed. I still had total control, just no pain.

Unless your hospital offers a walking epidural, your best bet is to just ask for a low dose of the medicine. You can always increase the dose if you need more pain control!

"walking epidural" has often become a street term for a low dose epidural even though they are not the same thing. Technically a walking epidural is different from an epidural because medication goes into the subarachnoid spinal space.

This is extremely helpful--thank you! I've been looking into this for a long time, but now I know the terminology to use with my OB.

Joined: 09/29/09
Posts: 1346

unfortunately in the world of anesthesia the dr's tend to be really busy. They often don't want to come back and tinker with someone's epidural because they have other things to do. They know if they give one big bolus of the medication no one will call him back to the bedside when the patient's pain is not controlled. The result is women often end up with very very strong epidurals. You may hear that the reason some women claim they had a "low dose" vs a "high dose" is because everyone's reaction is different. That is not entirely true. Its too time consuming to titrate it perfectly to everyone's needs. It IS possible to provide pain control without paralysis... its just most anesthesiologist are too busy to to spend the time.

Some hospitals offer a PCA, that is what mine was. It stands for Patient Controlled Anesthesia. The doctor sets up the epidural and gives a small bolus. The patient then gets a PCA button to press if they need more medicine, that way the anesthesiologist does not have to come back and give the meds himself. A pre-meausred amount then comes out of the PCA machine and right into the epidural. They are obviously a bit more expensive because the hospital has to invest in PCA machines. I think all hospitals will have PCA's eventually, but as far as I know its not universal yet.

My hospital stay would have been free if I had not gotten an epidural! PCA's are costly, but amazing!

lesleynka's picture
Joined: 04/26/11
Posts: 1845

"Carolyn85" wrote:

Some hospitals offer a PCA, that is what mine was. It stands for Patient Controlled Anesthesia. The doctor sets up the epidural and gives a small bolus. The patient then gets a PCA button to press if they need more medicine, that way the anesthesiologist does not have to come back and give the meds himself. A pre-meausred amount then comes out of the PCA machine and right into the epidural. They are obviously a bit more expensive because the hospital has to invest in PCA machines. I think all hospitals will have PCA's eventually, but as far as I know its not universal yet.

This is exactly what I had. I stopped giving myself the drug when it got closer to delivery time. I LOVED having the control.