Health Library

Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Epidural Placement for Labor

Placement of an epidural catheter for labor
Epidural catheter in place

Epidural anesthesia involves putting a sterile guide needle and a small tube (epidural catheter) into the space around the spinal cord (epidural space). The epidural catheter is placed at or below the waist.

The guide needle is inserted and removed, while the catheter remains in place. The catheter is taped in place up the center of your back and at the top of your shoulder.

An anesthetic medicine is injected into the catheter to numb your body below the insertion site. The amount of discomfort or pain that you have depends on the amount of anesthetic used. Less anesthetic (often called a light epidural) will allow you to be more active in your labor and feel enough to push effectively. With higher levels of anesthetic, you will feel little or no pain from your contractions. You may be required to remain in bed when an epidural is used.

Current as of: May 29, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology