Walking Epidural: Benefits & What You Need to Know

Walking Epidural - image

Epidurals have changed the way we can manage labor pain, often providing almost complete pain relief. Among the options available, walking epidurals offer a unique approach that can help mom to stay active and involved during birth, even with an epidural. They can help balance pain relief while still giving mom some mobility. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits and most important features of walking epidurals.

Pain Relief with Freedom to Move

Walking epidurals, also called combined spinal-epidurals (CSE) or low-dose epidurals, combine the best of traditional epidurals and spinal anesthesia. They merge the quick pain relief of a spinal block with the continuous pain management of an epidural. They aim to provide pain relief while still allowing for movement and active participation during labor.

Learn More: Natural Childbirth vs. Epidural: Side Effects and Risks

Key Features of Walking Epidurals vs Traditional Epidurals

  1. Lower Medication Dose: Unlike traditional epidurals, walking epidurals use smaller amounts of pain-relieving medications. This allows for pain relief while helping to preserve some sensation and muscle control in the lower body. It means that many moms can still move their legs in labor. But despite the name, most women still don’t have enough feeling to actually walk.
  2. Quicker Pain Relief: Walking epidurals usually provide faster pain relief compared to traditional epidurals. The medications of the initial spinal component offer immediate relief, while the medications of the epidural component help ensure that you’ll keep having pain relief throughout labor. And the medication is delivered directly into the spinal fluid, providing instant pain relief.
  3. Retained Mobility: Traditional epidurals typically result in complete numbness and very reduced movement for mom. The main advantage of walking epidurals is that they offer a balance between pain relief and the ability to shift positions. This can be helpful for both mother and baby’s positioning in labor, increased comfort for mom, and to promote baby’s downward movement in the pelvis.

Learn More: Pain Relief During Labor – Pan Medication Options

Benefits of Walking Epidurals

  1. Active Participation: With walking epidurals, women can actively participate in the birthing process. They have the freedom to change positions, walk, use birthing aids, and find comfortable postures. This active involvement contributes to a more positive birth experience.
  2. Fewer Interventions: Research suggests that walking epidurals may lead to fewer interventions during childbirth, such as the need for instruments or cesarean section. Being able to move and try different positions during labor can improve baby’s position in the pelvis, potentially reducing the need for an assisted delivery.
  3. Happier Moms: Offering the option of a walking epidural can increase maternal satisfaction and help moms feel more positive about their birthing experience. By being able to move and have control over their bodies during labor, women feel empowered and experience higher levels of satisfaction overall.


Even if your goal is natural childbirth, consider discussing your options for a walking epidural with your doctor or midwife. If your labor plans change, walking epidurals provide a wider range of pain management options during labor and delivery. They offer a unique combination of pain relief and mobility, allowing moms to actively participate in childbirth while still experiencing pain relief.


  1. Loubert C, et al. Walking epidural anesthesia for labor and delivery: a comprehensive review. Anesth Analg. 2017;124(3):915-924.
  2. Wong CA, et al. Clinical guideline: Labor epidural analgesia. Anesth Analg. 2020;130(4):e63-e77.
  3. Capogna G, et al. Walking versus recumbent epidural analgesia in labor: a prospective study. J Clin Anesth. 2001;13(4):255-259.
  4. Sultan P, et al. Obstetric epidural analgesia: the drug and equipment options. Drugs. 2012;72(3):379-405.
  5. Sharma RM, Setlur R, Bhargava AK, Vardhan S. Walking Epidural : An Effective Method of Labour Pain Relief. Med J Armed Forces India. 2007 Jan;63(1):44-6. doi: 10.1016/S0377-1237(07)80107-9. Epub 2011 Jul 21. PMID: 27407937; PMCID: PMC4921713.

Meet Katie Griffin

I’m a registered nurse, Lamaze certified childbirth educator, and the mother of 7. I help women realize their dream of a natural, intimate, and empowering hospital birth.

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Epidurals have changed the way we can manage labor pain, often providing almost complete pain relief. Among the options available, walking epidurals offer a unique approach that can help mom