Explainer: what is an epidural for labour?

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Epidurals were developed for pregnant women to address the severe pain of labour. In Australia about one in three pregnant women in labour has an epidural for this reason. A specialised medical doctor who has training and experience in this technique performs it in a hospital with an epidural service. This doctor is usually an anaesthetic consultant (anaesthetist) or a trainee under their supervision, or a GP anaesthetist. An epidural is sometimes called a “major regional block” because a large region of the body has pain blocked in it, or a “neuraxial block” because it blocks the pain nerves around…
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