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At What Level Is an Epidural Used During Labor?

Epidurals can be used at almost any point during labor. The determining factor as to when they should be used is the amount of pain the patient is experiences, states OB/GYN Wendy Askew of the Institute for Women’s Health in San Antonio, Texas.

“Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Anesthesiologists have published guidelines recommending that pregnant women be allowed to have epidural anesthesia simply based upon the severity of their pain, and not based upon how dilated their cervix is,” Askew observes. Expectant mothers, she adds, should not wait until the labor has progressed to the final stages, though, because it takes approximately 30 minutes once the epidural is placed for it to work best.

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