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What is an Epidural?

Photograph by Getty Images/Blend Images RM

An epidural is a medical procedure that lessens the pain of childbirth. In layman's terms, it involves inserting a needle into the space above the spinal cord and injecting medication, which deadens pain from the waist down, explains Dr. Kecia Gaither, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. Epidural medication is a local anesthetic and is often used in combination with pain medications such as fentanyl and sufentanil.. An epidural often allows a mother to rest when labor is prolonged.

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