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Epidural Shots

Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me: Itchy Epidural

When my OB/GYN asked me what my birthing plan was I looked at her like a lost dog. I wanted to say, "Well, if you mean pushing the baby out, that's it."

She saw my confusion and said, "Do you plan on having a natural birth, bath birth or drugs?" I quickly replied, "Drugs please!"

When I checked into the hospital, the nurse told me I could get the epidural at any point so I got it right away.

To see how the epidural surprised me,


As I rested in the hospital bed numb to my contractions, I began to experience a different sort of discomfort. Instead of feeling the gut wrenching labor pains, I suddenly felt the urge to scratch my arms. I looked around the room for mosquitoes or some other pest that might have bitten me.

As the minutes passed, the itchiness increased and both arms soon felt the torturous nagging. It quickly became evident that the epidural canceled the lower pain, but caused irritation in my upper limbs.

The best remedy for the situation was a cold wet washcloth.

Did your epidural make you itch?

Join The Conversation
janecool janecool 5 years
i got the epidural and i started feeling itchy across my belly. before the epidural they told me i was going to itch and not to scratch, but of course I did. I thought I scratched lightly, but when I got home, I found scratches across my belly. :(
three5andeight three5andeight 6 years
With my first son, I give birth without any meds by accident because my labor was too fast. With the second, they couldn't get the catheter into my spine so they just ended up giving me a shot of the epi meds. I got SUPER itchy all over my body and the worst part of it was that scratching the numb parts obviously didn't help at all. I also felt a lot of pressure still and that was pretty comfortable. So although I didn't feel the burning pain like with my first son, I was still uncomfortable from being so itchy and the pressure just really took me by surprise. I'm still undecided on what I'll do with my next child.
hoddie hoddie 8 years
I got a spinal block for my c-section and before they even closed me up I was scratching my face and arms like crazy. I remember saving a fork from my dinner tray to use as a back scratcher during the night! The nurse did give me a medication at one point to stop the itching and it helped, but it also made me really drowsy so I declined more of it once that wore off.
abqmama abqmama 9 years
I didn't have an epidural and the pain wasn't really that bad, I'm glad I didn't get one. Even though I didn't have any medication I did get the shakes really bad after the baby was born with both my deliveries.
macgirl macgirl 9 years
No itchiness which I assumed I would get. I did get the shakes but I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I often shake when I'm really nervous or tense.
luckyme luckyme 9 years
I didn't get any of these side effects! They must have put the benadryl in when they did the epidural. I LOVED the epidural and will do it again right when I walk in the hospital doors.
sarahm73 sarahm73 9 years
What about afterpains? Nobody told me about those! After my daughter was born I suffered with them. I was convinced that I was in labor again and that I was going to have another baby!
sweetnsour sweetnsour 9 years
Yuck the shakes and itchiness. I feel so ignorant. I am 30 weeks and this is the first I am hearing. I guess I need to do more research. i have my prepared childbirth class this weekend. i'll have to ask about that. what instances do they do a spinal vs epidural. i know it's a choice, but what have you guys done?
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I had two pain-free deliveries because of my epidural, but I had the shakes both times. Next time no epidural or drugs for me.
macneil macneil 9 years
I was very shaky during mine too - I have a curvature in my spine that no one (including me) knew about, so it just wasn't taking. They kept asking me if I was feeling numb, and I said no, and then they'd prick again somewhere else, and I was starting to get terrified, thinking I'd have to have a general anaesthetic, and would, like, DIE. As soon as they worked out what was the problem, and it worked, it was all lovely, calm, easy.
rgrl rgrl 9 years
Ha, ha! Katedavis, I completely relate to your happiness after the spinal/epidural. In between pushing I was making jokes with the nurses and doctor and talking about what I would do next time I have a baby. It's such a nice relief!
rgrl rgrl 9 years
I had a spinal instead of an epi (close to before I had to start pushing). After the baby was born I got so itchy all over! It lasted a couple of hours. But it was worth it. BTW I had a spinal because they could not get the epidural in since I have a scar on my back.
katedavis katedavis 9 years
My husband had to leave the room when I got my epidural, and my OB was outside with him and said, "When we go back in she's going to be really happy and really itchy." Sure enough, when he entered the room I was sitting there with a big old grin on my face, scratching my arms saying, "I love this stuff, but I'm really itchy!" I did get the shakes, but after I had a c-section.
DesignRchic DesignRchic 9 years
Wow, I had no idea that an epidural can give you the itch or even the shakes! That wasn't communicated to me.
fsquaash fsquaash 9 years
I had a spinal block and they put "something" in my IV to relieve the itching from the beginning. It sounds like I'm lucky they did.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
I've never had an epidural, but I've had a spinal with each of my four c-sections. Never felt the itch, but I shook violently throughout my surgery every time. Not fun at all.
Dana18 Dana18 9 years
I got the shakes after have my c-section with my twins. My mom was so worried about be in the recovery room. She keep asking me " why are you shaking."
Moms Moms 9 years
I had the shaking both times, but only that itching sensation after I delivered my son. The nurse put Benedryl in my IV to stop it.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years
I didn't itch, but also had the shaking. However, mine started with the IV they put in before the epidural, which I guess was meant to hydrate me. They told me my shaking was a combo of tension and the cold liquids being pumped into me. Oh well. IMO, it was a SMALL price to pay for the wonders of a pain-free labor and delivery!
Greggie Greggie 9 years
They didn't warn you about the side effects?? That's awful, people shouldn't have to be shocked like that. You're supposed to get a run-down of at least common problems with it, and itching is high on the list of common problems, as are the shakes. They can also counteract it with Benedryl or other allergy medication into your IV. I didn't get itching with my epidural or spinal the first time, but I got terrible itching from the spinal with my second. The Benedryl was pure heaven. The last one I got the vomits from the spinal, which I'll take over the itching any day.
sarahm73 sarahm73 9 years
yea - it didn't work for me either. I had 4 epidurals followed by a spinal that worked for 20 mins before it wore off. It was a horrific experience! It never occured to me during my pregnancy that I would feel any pain. I really believed that I'd get to the hospital, get the drugs and have a blissful birth. Boy, was I in for a shock. Of course, after seeing my beautiful daughter, I swore I'd do it a million times over and I would! Still, I am pretty scared to go through it again!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
my sister tried to get the epidural and she was one of those few that for some reason it didn't work. bummer!
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
No epidural. I was afraid of it. I had my son without drugs and the experience was the most painful ever!!!
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