Going home after having a spinal or epidural
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This website provides some important information for women who have had an epidural or spinal procedure on our delivery suite.
The anaesthetic team always aims to review you before you are sent home to make sure that you have recovered from your spinal or epidural. Sometimes you can be discharged before we can see you.
Although it is extremely rare, it is possible to have complications from your spinal or epidural. Severe problems can be avoided if we can detect them early. The problems are likely to be detected whilst you are still in hospital but very occasionally they can appear when you are at home up to six weeks later.
The information below will help you to identify some symptoms which may have been caused by your spinal or epidural and how to contact us.
Contact us if your headache:
- Limits your ability to look after yourself or your baby.
- Does not go away after you have rested, drunk fluids and taken mild pain killers such as paracetamol.
- Gets worse while you are sitting or standing but feels better when you are lying down.
- Comes with other symptoms like neck stiffness or hearing changes (such as ringing or a blocked sensation) or a dislike of bright lights.
- Is associated with any other symptom listed below.
Low back pain is very common after having a baby. Contact us if you have severe back pain near the site of your epidural or spinal injection and:
- The pain is getting worse and is not settled with simple pain killers or adjusting your position.
- The pain travels up the spine or down into the buttocks and legs.
- If the back feels hot or the area is red or oozing.
- You have a temperature and are feeling unwell.
- You lose control of your bladder or bowels.
- You have any changed sensation in the lower body as listed below.
Changed sensation in lower body
Nerve damage after childbirth can occur in up to 1 in 100 women and is usually caused by pressure in the nerves in your pelvis during labour or delivery. This can cause an altered sensation in your buttocks or legs.
Nerve damage caused by a spinal or epidural is very rare. Contact us if you feel any changes in your buttock or legs such as:
- Difficulty walking or weakness in the legs
- Pins and needles.
Also see our information leaflet on nerve damage after childbirth.
If you have any concerns, you can ask your midwife to contact the obstetric anaesthetist on duty before you go home.
If you are at home:
- Contact labour ward directly on 020 8767 4654 and ask to speak to the duty anaesthetist.
- Call St George’s Hospital on 020 8672 1255 and enter bleep number 6392 at the voice prompt to speak to the anaesthetist.
The website Labourpains is a public information website with patient information leaflets. You can view the “Headache after spinal or epidural procedure?” leaflet. This leaflet is also translated into other languages.
Click here to return to our main page.
Reproduced with permission from the Royal women’s Hospital, Melbourne Australia March 2021
For translations please refer to the Royal Women’s Hospital Website “Going home after an epidural/spinal.”
Please note this will direct you to a different hospital. Contact numbers for St George’s Hospital appear on this site.