How does an epidural anaesthetic work?

An epidural is so-called because a needle is inserted, by an anaesthetist, into the epidural space of your lumbar spine (near the bottom of your back-bone). The needle is removed after a plastic tube is threaded through, and local anaesthetic is given through this tube and ''bathes'' the nerves as they enter your spinal cord. So your tummy, upper legs and bladder are effectively numbed while the rest of your body can react normally. The epidural can be ''topped up'' with anaesthetic regularly, and provide pain relief for many hours of labour, normal delivery, Caesarean Section, Forceps, Ventouse or most other Obstetric procedures.
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