Should I get an epidural before getting induce? How long does an epidural last before it wears off? — The Bump
March 2015 Moms

Should I get an epidural before getting induce? How long does an epidural last before it wears off?

This is my first pregnancy, I'm 5'2 & only weigh 140, "very little"... Very nervous about getting induce Tuesday & scared with getting an epidural... I'm mainly scared of everything...


  • I may be wrong but I think you can only get an epidural once you've dilated to a center number of cm first. Also you will have to wait until you get a whole bag of fluid in you first.

    As far as if you should get one, it's all about what you think is best for you and your baby.

    I had one with both of my labors and had no issues with my first labor. I was 2 cm dilated when I got it and it worked great. This time I was already 5 cm dilated when I went into labor so I was able to get it as soon as I got the bag of fluid in me. My body didn't respond well to it and my blood pressure kept dropping which meant I had to keep getting bags of fluids. I wish I had waited longer to get it because it slowed my contractions down and I wasn't progressing so I had to have pitocin. Also it started wearing off once it was time to push and I felt everything when I was pushing. This is my personal experiences with the epidural, but it doesn't mean it'll be that way for you.

  • As a FTM myself, I can relate to your concerns! I was not induced, but I got my epidural when I was about 6 cm. I don't know if there is a set time you can get it or not, but as mentioned, you do need to get hydrated first. If they're using Pitocin, then you'll be on an IV anyway. I was reminded by my nurse that I would need to be able to sit still long enough through the contractions, so I shouldn't put it off until that wasn't an option. On Pitocin, you'll likely get longer, more frequent, possibly stronger contractions, and you probably won't be able to move around as much to relieve them since you'll be monitored the whole time. Not that it wouldn't be doable, but just something to keep in mind.

    As for the potential complications, I, too, had issues with low BP. I run low normally. They had to medicate me and give me extra fluids. But it was definitely worth it. My contractions stayed fairly regular right up to pushing. The epidural does not "wear off," per se, but they can adjust the dosage and many times will decrease it for pushing so that you feel it better. In my case, I labored for 7 hours with the epidural and pushed for 3 1/2 hours. I could feel the urge to push and the progression of the baby, but the contractions were not felt. My contractions did slow down at the very end, so I was put on Pitocin to speed things up for pushing. Whether that was the epidural or just my body, I don't know.

    Good luck with your induction! Whatever decision you make, just know that your body can make it through.
  • I was induced with my first baby and did not get an epidural until I was 10cm. They put me on an epidural infusion which means I got a constant stream of numbing medication. I did not feel anything during pushing.

    With my second, I labored naturally (was not induced) and got an epidural at 8ish cm. My epidural was just dosed this time, no infusion. So each pain relief dosage lasted about an hour and a half. When I was pushing, the adrenaline pushed the epi dose through my body much faster, I could feel the last 5 min of pushing full force.

    You will not be given an epidural before you are induced. You will feel some of your contractions, no labor is completely pain free. But you can do this. Your medical team is there to support you through this whole process. Good luck and congratulations!
  • I was induced last week and I was terrified as well. Especially because I didn't even know I was getting induced until the day of when I had my weekly doctors visit. I really didn't have time to think about the epidural at that point but I knew from before that I would get one if the pain was too strong since I have a very low pain tolerance. I was induced and maybe an hour later I started feeling contractions. I lasted about 2-3 hours without the epidural. They just felt like really bad and strong period cramps to me and I would inhale when the contraction started and exhale slowly when it got the most painful part and I honestly think that that's what helped me stay those hours without the epidural. They started getting stronger after like 3 hours to the point where I was crying so I asked for the epidural. I was so scared especially because they made my husband and mom leave the room :( im not gonna lie it was a bit painful but I would say 30-40% of it was my fear which I think made it worse. Just try your best to stay as calm as possible and breath! It will be a bit painful but after that hopefully you won't feel a thing. I was still in labor for hours after that and the epidural wore off by the time my baby was out so I was in pain after when they were stitching me up but then they numbed me and I was fine. I would say the epidural for me lasted about 10 hours because my labor was 14 hours long. For me it was definitely worth it i know its diferent for everyone but luckily I had a positive experience with it and if you decide to get it i hope it's a good experience for you too! Good luck!
  • Why can't you try labour without it? I don't understand why people automatically book one in.
    I have had 3 natural births without any drugs.
    Maybe go in and just see how you go.
    Having a natural birth can be much quicker, less chance of having a c section and a quicker recovery time.
    Just my opinion :)
  • Getting induced is not like natural labour though. Depending on the method that they use, contractions can be a lot more painful and intense and labour more complicated. It's purely your decision and it's different for everybody.

    I gave birth to my son three weeks ago and planned to have a natural water birth with no pain medication. I'm a young FTM and had a totally romanticised view of childbirth!

    I have never been in hospital before, never had anything physically wrong with me medically and am a huge wuss with a non-existent pain threshold.

    What actually happened was almost all of my worst fears about childbirth came true and my birth plan went to hell! I developed GD near the end and had to be induced at 38 weeks. This took 5 days of painful contractions and ended with me having my water broken and going on the pitocin drip, losing too much blood, baby getting stuck behind my pelvis and having 2 failed suction caps and being born with forceps. I had an episiotomy and lots of stitches. I was hooked up to six different drips by the end of it all and I have no idea what most of them were. I was particularly unlucky and the doctors said they'd never seen such a complicated, lengthy induction. All the other women in my ward went into labour after a couple of hours of their first hormone dose, quickly and easily.

    In the end, I chose to have an epidural after 8 hours of labour and it was a good decision under my circumstances. I would do it again. I had this arranged before I was hooked up to the pitocin and it was a good job I did as the anesthetist was tied up for the rest of the night.

    Let me tell you, none of it is really as bad as you think it's going to be. You will surpass your own expectations of what you can cope with and feel like a superhero at the end of it all. I know people say this all the time but it's true, you go into a sort of 'zone' when you're delivering your baby whereby you don't really feel pain and you are not scared. It's one of natures little magic tricks.

    I suppose what I am trying to say is, if I can do it then you most definitely can. Oh and use that gas & air, it's heavenly ;)

    Good luck, you will be fine xxx
  • Oh also, my epidural wore off after a few hours but it depends on the strength of the dose. I could still vaguely feel my contractions through mine so it didn't totally numb me. They give you a little button to press so you can up the dose yourself as you go.
  • I've had two natural fast labors as well but I was looking at possible induction with this second one and I would have gotten the epi if that happened. Because of the way pitocin works it's not natural in the least and is a medically induced state of pushing the child out. The body is less prepared and therefore will most likely need assistance induring what it was unprepared for. I'm sure there are women who have done with without an epidural , more power to them! But even as someone who believes in as natural as possible and has done it twice drug free , I would probably opt for the epi if I was medically induced.
  • I was induced and trust me Your going to want the epidural. I had my water broken and the contractions were horrible and then started picotin I lasted to 6cm. And got the epidural it was great . If I didn't get it I wouldn't of had the strength. My labor was 8 hours only pushed for one hour.
  • Induction is completely different than natural labor. Generally speaking, it will be much slower because you are forcing your body into something it isn't prepared for.

    I too had a romanticized vision of a med free birth, and held out for 15 hours into the induction. At a certain point, my body was so worn down and tortured that I was shaking constantly and my dilation stalled at 6cm.

    The epidural was devastating emotionally because it went against my birth plan, but as soon as I got it, everything changed and my stressful awful drawn out labor morphed into a positive experience. I was able to get sleep, and my dilation continued on, picking up speed.

    My advice is to hold out until the contractions get too uncomfortable, then to get it, that way you don't have to worry about it wearing out, or stalling labor.
    BabyFetus Ticker
  • I went in to be induced last Thursday (I was over due) because I was full closed and long they used the bulb catheter to dilate me to 3 cm then they started pitocin about 13 hours in of screaming and throwing up because of the pain I asked for an epidural. I have never experienced that kind of pain in my life. I thought I would die. My husband was so terrified and begging me to get the epidural. Pitocin is not fun. The balloon catheter is not fun. 29 hours of labor and I never got past 6cm dilated when I started to run a fever. Because my water had broken over 13 hours before they were watching out for signs of infection.y doctor called a cesarean when my fever didn't go down after an hour and my contractions slowed to 4 mins apart. I don't think I would have progressed much either way. I don't know if the epidural was the cause of the slow down or what. But I know there was no way in hell I was going to be able to go with out the epidural longer than I did.
  • @erwallace089 I'm so sorry you had such a rough and grueling experience. Seriously, that's all kinds of awful. At the same time, I'm glad your docs were able to get everybody through the whole ordeal safely. I'm very glad you are ok.
  • Here's the positive... You can basically have the epidural any time during during your induction until the proposed dilation of 8 cm, but even that can have room for flexibility depending on your status. You have time! If you feel that the contractions after induction are too much to bear, you can make a decision to help with that. Also, the L&D nurses or OB can help advise you during the process. Give yourself an open mind to different options.
  • I was induced 3 weeks ago (they gave me cervadil to soften my cervix) I only dilated to 2 cm and my contractions were close. I was offered the epidural to help me sleep and I was hesitant but 10 min later asked for it. It wasn't bad at all (and I was so scared) I even had a contraction while the anesthesiologist was doing it. The nurses and anesthesiologist were calming and comforting, they explained everything before they touched me and after it was done, I felt so much better. I would have it again in a heart beat!
  • Yes, the anesthesiology team were so great and comforting! After +36 hours of contractions with 12 of those hours in almost debilitating pain, I was finally able to sleep. It's your birth plan, and you can modify it to best serve you and your baby.
  • I'd like to add I was induced with my first and not nearly as progressed at the start of the induction(2 cm and 50% effaced) and I labored 4 hours before getting the epidural. I was only in labor for 7 hours and pushed 15 minutes.

    With baby girl I was I went into labor on my own and started 5 cm and 50% effaced and got the epidural about an hour or 2 after I was admitted and was in labor 16 hours and pushed 17 minutes. I stayed at 5 cm for almost 8 hours until I finally started progressing after getting pitocin.

    It just goes to show that epidurals and inductions are differnt for everyone, both my experiences were completely different. Make the decision you think is best for you. It is scary being a first time mom experiencing labor for the first time but just think of the beautiful little reward you get as a result of all your pain and hard work.
  • why? well, because epidural are amazing science miracles. If YOU want to feel the pain, fine, but don't pressure others to suffer through it. And new research shows that it doesn't stall labor at all. It helps moms rest during the process, which we need... 
  • @silversjenna nooooo don’t say that, I was induced with my first baby. I had nothing to compare it to and it was very painful but with gas and air I was ok. Everyone is different and has very different experiences and pain thresholds. 
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