If I Have an Epidural, Will I Know When to Push?

pushing with an epidural will i know when to pushI came across a question about epidurals in Answers from APlessy. She's 37 weeks, has preeclampsia, and is looking at a possible induction. If she has one, and gets an epidural, she's wondering if she'll be able to feel when it's time to push.

Here's what moms had to say, some general epi pros and cons from the American Pregnancy Association, and, for what it's worth, my two cents on the subject.


Moms who responded had all kinds of different experiences -- some could feel absolutely nothing when it came time to push, others knew. There's no definitive answer to how a woman will experience an epidural -- it varies.

From the APA, some pros of the epidural:

-- It can allow you to rest if your labor is prolonged.

-- Relieving the pain can help some moms focus and have a more positive birth experience.

-- An epi will usually help you remain alert and to be an active participant in the birth.

Some cons:

-- An epi may cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly, so you'll have to be routinely monitored. Baby's fetal heart rate will need to be monitored, too.

-- There's a chance you'll experience a severe headache caused by leakage of spinal fluid. Less than 1% of moms do.

-- Once the epidural is placed, you won't have much freedom of movement. Lying in one position can sometimes cause labor to slow down.

I had an epidural after being induced. I dilated quickly, could feel when to push with every contraction, and had a pretty fast delivery.

What's your experience? If you've given birth before and had an epidural, what would you tell a first-time mom to expect?

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