Heparin or Saline Lock

Specialties Ob/Gyn


I am not a nurse. Nor could I ever be one. I can't handle blood. But as I go into my second pregnancy, I wanted to learn more about the different things that happens in the birthing room (LDRP). The first OB I had was really bad. If it weren't for the nurses I would have been totally lost. I printed out some questions to go over with my new doctor. One of the questions states " If I need an IV, I would like to use a heparin or saline lock." I have looked every on the web and I can't find out what this is. Can someone help me out. Do I want one of these?

A heparin or saline lock is an IV without being attached to that damn pole. Conventional IVs attach to a tube that leads to a solution bag hanging on the pole. A lock is an IV that is attached to a little chamber on your hand filled with either saline or heparin, thus the name. It is about the size of a nickel and provides access to your venous system if the nurses need to give you any medication fast but allows you freedom of movement (no tubes or poles). I would DEFINITELY recomend it over the conventional IV with pole.

Your doctor could even draw you a picture. The concept is simple but it's hard to explain. Just ask if my explanation was totally confusing

Thanks Fergus,

that helpeed alot. I think I actually had that in giving birth to my first son. As I said before, my doctor wasn't very good at explaining anything. He didn't even ask if my husband wanted to cut the cord. I saw hime once during my whole pregnancy. But, thanks to him, I will be speaking up when this child is born.

One more thing, I plan on having an epidural. Should I still ask for the heparin/saline lock?

Yes you should still have an IV of some kind. Personally I hate epidurals, but our agency does use them and the policy is to still have a lock or conventional IV in case the patient needs blood or any medications. Good luck with this labor I hope it's better than the last one!

Thank You so much Fergus!

You have been such a great help!

Thank You!

If you have a low risk pregnancy, which is the norm, a saline or heparin lock is practical and widely acceptable. It is my hospital's policy when administering an epidural to have IV fluids infusing. A risk of the epidural is a drop in your BP, which can be prevented with proper IV hydration. Our anesthesia dept would never administer an epidural unless the pt had IV fluids infusing. Therefore, since you are likely to arrive at hospital after 3-4cm, in active labor, you can have saline/heparin lock placed on admission. Then when you feel you are ready for epidural they will be able to hook up infusion easily.

Thank you so much. You both have been such a great help. I appreciate everything. Nurses Are The Best!

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