MIDWIFE NIKKI SAYS:
It's common to worry about how you're going to cope with pain during labour. There are various forms of pain relief available, but an epidural is one that needs to be given by an anaesthetist in hospital.
There are certain criteria that need to be met, the main one being that you have to be in established labour.
This means that it can't be given unless you're having regular contractions that are causing the cervix, the entrance to the womb, to dilate.
Many obstetric units also state that your cervix should be at least 3cm dilated before you will be considered for an epidural, so check with your hospital.
It's a good idea to let your midwives know that an epidural is your preferred option for pain relief and also write it on your birth plan.
Mobile epidurals allow you to remain as upright as possible, so are quite popular as a method of pain relief. Of course, as an epidural has to be administered by an anaesthetist, it's dependent on an anaesthetist being available. Most hospitals have one on call for back-up, so you shouldn't have to wait too long.