If you're considering using epidural anesthesia to manage pain when your delivery day arrives, you may have concerns that it can actually hinder your progress. Epidurals are typically placed when the cervix is dilated to 4 to 5 centimeters and when a woman is in active labor. If they're administered too early, they can slow labor, says to Dr. Joseph Garza, an obstetrician/gynecologist and reproductive endocrinologist from the Institute for Women's Health in Texas. However, he explains, "An epidural can also help the mother relax and deliver sooner." Discuss pain management options with your doctor well in advance of your due date so that you're prepared when the big day arrives.
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