Why can't I have an epidural and deliver in the water? Why is it that you can't have an epidural and give birth in water?
Infection. An epidural is a sterile procedure that introduces a sterile catheter into a clean, protected area inside the spine. It has to be kept very clean to avoid causing a serious spinal or meningeal infection. Water births are remarkably unsterile in conditions, and so there can be no risk of that water coming anywhere near the epidural site.
Epidural water birth. A better question is why you desire to give birth in the water. I know of at least one fetal death from this method and most places i know discontinued this birthing method. Some concerns about the epidural might be infection from contamination of the water. Additionally, the safety of having weakness in your legs while you are in a water bath is a concern.
Water . Water birth is a birth option offered in some hospitals and birthing centers, but it is not an option if you have an epidural in place. The reason is to prevent the very serious but extremely rare occurrence of epidural infection. An epidural consists of a catheter (plastic tube) that is placed through a needle into the epidural space. It is used to deliver medicine around the spinal cord and large nerves that travel in the spinal canal. The epidural catheter is placed under sterile conditions- the skin is treated to kill bacteria on the surface and a sterile drape is placed. The natural barrier function of the skin to keep bacteria out is then no longer intact so a sterile dressing is applied to minimize the risk of bacteria traveling down the tract of the catheter and causing an infection just like a child losing a bandaid in a swimming pool- that dressing is going to come loose if submerged in water. If the epidural dressing is not intact, then this defense against bacterial contamination is compromised. So until we have a completely waterproof dressing, it is probably best to spend some time in the tub while you are in labor and if you get to the point where you want to have an epidural, towel off and stay poolside until your baby is born.