Epidurals are the most popular, and many say most effective, form of pain relief during labor and birth. For many women, "pain" is the first word that comes to mind when they think about labor and giving birth, and they would like to undertake steps that keep them as comfortable as possible. For these women, having an epidural is the obvious answer. Let's have a look at the many benefits of epidural anesthesia for laboring women. First things first the most obvious benefit of epidural anesthesia is that it (hopefully) takes away the pain of contractions. For some women, epidurals work so well that they do not feel any pain at all. Other women still feel some discomfort or even pain. Not feeling pain may mean that you will feel more relaxed, in turn helping you to have a speedier labor. Many women like being able to talk, laugh, and be relaxed while they are having contractions. In some cases, women whose labor has stalled,medically called "failure to progress", will quickly progress (dilate) after the administration of epidural anesthesia. Obstetricians often say that for some women, the epidural was that "little extra" they needed to be able to quickly push out their babies. Women who have prolonged labors are less likely to get exhausted when they have received epidural anesthesia. Not feeling pain will allow you to rest and even sleep for part of your labor. If you are in sudden need of an emergency cesarean section, the fact that epidural anesthesia has already been administered means that the time to incision may be shorter, and also that you will not need general anesthesia. Having epidural anesthesia already in place might mean that you will be awake and "present" for your baby's birth, even if you happen to need a really quick c-section.
Also see when after birth is the placenta delivered?