Epidural for Plus-size Women?

Is it true that epidurals don’t work as well for plus-size or overweight women?
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February 28, 2017
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Nope. Epidurals can be your pain-blocking friend, no matter your size or shape. They’ll work whether you’re large or small, short or tall. That’s because, for the most part, once the epidural has been administered, you’ll likely be the one in control of just how much of the drugs you get. Today, the majority of hospitals use something called patient-controlled analgesia, or PCA — so if you start feeling pain, you just push a little button. The meds themselves are run through an infusion bag, so the medication will last as long as you need it to (which we’re hoping for you isn’t too terribly long).

In some cases, depending on how the woman carries her weight, it can be a little more difficult for the anesthesiologist to find the perfect place to insert the needle into the epidural space (the small area outside the spinal canal where the nerves exit from the spinal cord). But even if it takes her a handful of tries, you probably won’t feel more than a slightly achy sensation since that spot will already be numb from a local anesthetic. Then, once the epidural is in place, all you need to do is focus on the good stuff: a safe, healthy delivery.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

The Bump expert: Christy Morgan, MD, obstetrical anesthesiologist, Mercy Hospital, St. Louis

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