Epidural for Childbirth: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

An epidural is a tiny tube that delivers pain medicine directly into the area in your back around your spinal cord. The effects of the epidural usually wear off within 2 hours after the epidural medicine is stopped. After the epidural wears off, you may have some hip or back pain from childbirth. You may have a small bruise and the skin may be sore where the epidural was put in your back. This will probably get better in 1 or 2 days.

In rare cases, an epidural can cause a headache, especially when you sit or stand. This can last for several days. If you get a headache after the epidural, call your doctor or nurse call line. He or she can treat it.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • By the time you go home, the effects of the epidural will be gone. If you have any problems, call your doctor or nurse call line.
  • Follow any instructions your doctor gave you about how to care for yourself after your delivery. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you have questions about post-delivery care.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new or worse headache.
  • You have a stiff neck.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your legs.
  • You have trouble urinating or can pass only very small amounts of urine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 16, 2017