Friday, December 2, 2011

Is an Epidural really worth it?

It is safe to say that child birth is a different experience for every woman. There are many factors that contribute to the birthing experience like, the environment, size of the mother and the baby, position of the baby, mothers pain tolerance, and medications used. Everyone has a choice about most of these things and one that is debated it the use of an Epidural for pain relief. Ultimately it is the woman's choice if she would like an Epidural during child birth but before going into labor and arriving at the hospital a woman should consider her options along with the risks and benefits.

An Epidural is considered a regional anesthetic because it give pain relief to a specific part of the body. In this case the lower body sensations are reduced to give a woman pain relief during pregnancy. A Epidural is given by placing a small tube or catheter in the lower back in the epidural space. Once the catheter is in place medication can be started. There are two main choices that a woman has with medicaton. She can choose a regualar Epidural that requires a pump or periodic injections and is a combination of narcotic and anesthesia. The second choice is a Combines Spinal- Epidural which is a main initial injection of medication in the outer most layer of the spinal cord and inward of the Epidural space. The Catheter is then left in so that medication can be administered later if needed.

Benefits of an Epidural:
-Allows a mother to relax during labor if it is long
-Relieves discomfort
-Gives the mother extra strength to push through a tough labor and be an active and awake during child birth.

Disadvantages of an Epidural:
-Sudden drop in blood pressure of the mother
-Headache, discomfort at the epidural sight, itching, shivering
-Numbness of the lower body for a few hours
-Pushing may become more difficult
-Can slow labor down so a mother needs to alternate positions often
-Rarely an Epidural will cause permanent nerve damage or the baby will have trouble latching to breast feed.

There are other ways to counteract the pain of child birth then by receiving and Epidural. An expecting mother needs to mentally prepare for the process and not be stress out. Stress causes more pain so if you can control the stress then the birthing experience should be a more positive one. The environment around a mother is very important along with the support that she is receiving. Most importantly everyone needs to do what makes her comfortable and but her needs first.

Ultimately it is the mothers choice to receive and Epidural or not. Every hospital has different policies and procedures about Epidurals so a mother needs to look into that before she makes a decision.



  1. I thought that this was a very interesting blog, and also a surprising one. I didn't realize that there were so many side effects that went along with getting an epidural, good and bad. I know people who have gotten the epidural during child birth, who said that they still feel pain sometimes when they move a certain way, one of them being my friends mother who who got it over 20 years ago, so I thought that was interesting. Did you happen to find any side effects that this shot could have on the child, if any?

  2. Really good info! I didn't know there were so many side effects either. Almost everyone I know who has had a baby has gotten an epidural. Do you know how common those side effects are?

  3. I agree with the increase in side effects shock. While many of them do not seem to be detrimental to the baby in any way (which would be my primary concern), it seems that the loss of pain initially could still cause even worse complications for the mother.

  4. That is very interesting. One question I have is how likely is it that any one of the cons will appear during or after the birth of the child?

  5. From a personal experience and having 3 kids. I have experienced labor all 3 ways. With my son I just had the narcotics, with my first daughter I had the epideral, and because my youngest decided to come into the world so fast I had her with no epideral or pain meds. Although I am not having anymore children, if I were to have another one I would go for the epideral. I myself, didn't experience ANY side effects from the epideral. It allowed me to relax and enjoy the experience. Heck I couldn't even tell when I was having the contractions the doctor had to tell me when to push with each of the contractions.

  6. Most of these side effects are common but the degree of each varies greatly because every epidural and mother is different. The dosage of the epidural depends on the doctor and mother as well as what medications that are actually used. As for effects on the baby there is little research done but some babies are reported as having trouble latching on to nurse. Nikki I would be interested to hear if this was true for your first daughter. Also in Nikki's comment she said that her doctor had to tell her when to push, this is also common with most women. Some women would not like this while others certainly would.