To place the epidural tube, an anesthesiologist will have you sit on the edge of your bed or lay curled up on your side in the fetal position. You will be asked to relax and round your back like the letter “C” to open up the spaces between the bones in your spine. Your lower back will be cleaned with a soap solution and the doctor will wear sterile caps and gloves to help prevent infections. You will be given a small dose of numbing medication in the skin to make you more comfortable during the procedure. This may feel like a bee sting.
After the numbing medication, you will feel pressure as the anesthesiologist finds the correct location to place the epidural tube. A needle will be carefully inserted between your back bones into a space outside your spinal cord, the epidural space. Once the needle is accurately placed, a small plastic tube is inserted through the hollow space in the needle. The needle is then removed, and the tube is taped to your skin. While nothing sharp stays in your back, the tube will remain in place during labor. Next, the anesthesiologist will make sure the tube is in the correct place by doing some tests. You will given an initial dose of local anesthetic through the epidural tube to make you comfortable, which may take 15-30 minutes to work completely. After this, the epidural tube is hooked up to a pump that gives medicine continuously. You and your baby will be closely monitored throughout this process.