Health & BeautyLabor & Delivery

What Does An Epidural Feel Like? Does It Hurt?


For me, the scariest part of pregnancy is the epidural.

Not getting the epidural… but worrying about what the epidural will feel like and if I can stay still while it is inserted!

After 2 epidurals with my previous births, I’m going to describe what it feels like to have an epidural during labor…



The Good News:

My epidurals did NOT hurt.

Let me repeat…

Getting an epidural did NOT hurt!

(It was kinda scary, though.)


What Happens Before You Get An Epidural?

The anesthesiologist explained the procedure and asked me to sign a clipboard full of forms.

I was hooked up to an IV in my arm.  The IV fluid counters any drops in blood pressure during the epidural.


What Does It Feel Like To Get An Epidural? 

Here’s what happened to me:


  1. The anesthesiologist turned me on the side, exposing the open back of my hospital gown. (Talk about feeling like a beached whale!)
  2. Then, the doctor cleaned my spine with a cold alcohol swab.  Brrr!  With a regular needle, he injected a local anesthetic in just the right spot.  This was truly the only part that hurt.
  3. Once the numbing kicked in, I had to lie completely still.  A nurse stood at my side and held my hands for reassurance.
  4. I felt the pressure of the metal cannula push into my spine.   I could sense the movement as the doctor found the right spot, but it did not hurt.
  5. There was a strange popping feeling as the tubing was inserted and then taped to my back.
  6. I felt a cold — yet hot — chill run through my entire body as fluid entered the tubing.

After my first epidural was over, both my husband and the nurse confessed it didn’t go so smoothly.  The doctor tried one spot first, and then another.  Me?  I was clueless, and the epidural worked fine afterward.


What If You Move During An Epidural?

This was my biggest fear. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I moved while getting the epidural.


What if I had a contraction?  What if I couldn’t stop myself from moving?

I didn’t realize I’d be hooked up to a belly band which measured my contractions.

The anesthesiologist and nurse simply watched the monitor to pinpoint the end of a contraction, and inserted the epidural just after that.


What Does It Feel Like To Have An Epidural During Labor?

Pretty wonderful — at least until the medicine ran dry during my first birth.

It took awhile for a nurse anesthetist to refill the epidural bag, and in that half hour, I got to experience how much natural birth could hurt.

Neither epidurals made me feel numb from the waist down.  I could feel my feet, even if I couldn’t get up and walk around the room.  I could feel my belly tighten with each contraction, and I could feel the pelvic muscles strain as I pushed.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you that those were my pelvic muscles at the time.  Pushing with an epidural felt more like having a bowel movement.  (Sorry, that’s gross!)  I could really only feel myself pushing in the same places.

My second epidural was light enough that I could clearly sense the baby’s head slipping from my body.  I have to tell you, it was pretty cool feeling!


Are There Any After Effects After Having The Epidural Removed?


Not really.  I had the shivers and a general itchiness across my chest later that day.

I also felt slight soreness from the puncture. Neither lasted more than a few hours after birth.

Honestly, ripping off all that tape was more painful than removing the tubing!

—>This great article discusses more of the side effects and advantages of epidural pain relief during labor.


Would I Get An Epidural Again?


I plan to have another relaxing and comfortable birth in October!