Can my partner stay with me during the epidural?

Getting an Epidural in Labor

Nurse holds a laboring woman during epidural procedure
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Question: Can my partner stay with me during the epidural?

You've decided that you want to have an epidural. But you're worried about sitting still, the pain during administration of the epidural and just being alone or without your husband or partner. So you'd like them to stay with you while you get the epidural.

Answer: The short, simple answer is that it will depend on the hospital policy where you plan to have your baby.

All labor and delivery areas have different policies in place about who can stay and who has to leave the room while and epidural is being given. That said, it doesn't hurt to ask, even if the policy is against letting someone stay with you. 

Your first step is to ask your midwife or doctor if they know what the hospital policy is where you've chosen to give birth. You will want to verify their answer with the labor and delivery unit at the hospital. This is the perfect type of questions to ask when taking a hospital tour. If there is an exception available, the hospital will be able to explain it to you how you can apply for the exemption. This should be a part of your birth plan and should be in writing.

If there is no exception, you will need to talk to someone about getting one if it is important to you to have your husband with you during the epidural administration. This might be the head of labor and delivery or you may need to go to the board of directors.

This is not as difficult as it seems. It might also be as simple as the anesthesiologist on call making an exception. Talking to all of these groups before you have your baby is always best.

There are some hospitals that allow a doula to stay and not the spouse or partner. This might be another alternative for you.

This is particularly true if your husband or partner can't handle the epidural administration. Some people find the administration to be really painful to watch, while others don't even notice anything at all. It really depends on the partner's comfort level.

If someone stays with you, typically they can stay at your bedside. If you are receiving an epidural while lying down on your side, they can kneel next to the bed, hold your hand and talk to you without seeing anything. If you are sitting up, they may be able to stand in front of you, while you hold onto them for support. A doctor or nurse can show you which positions work best for support people. A support person does not need to watch if they do not want to see anything.

During the administration of the epidural, the doctor and nurses will guide both you and your support person in what is needed. You can simply follow their lead. When it is time for the placement of the needle, staring into each other's eyes works really well. It can be very calming and reassuring.

A few mothers would rather close their eyes, and that's okay too.

If you are in an area where they want you to leave while they place the epidural, they will usually give you instructions to come back in a certain amount of time, like 20-30 minutes. Use this time to go to the bathroom and maybe eat something. Most hospitals will not let you sit outside the door or stand in the hallway due to fire code restrictions. 

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