Effects Of Epidural Procedures During Childbirth
Giving birth is something that is supposed to be an enjoyable, amazing experience. But a lot of moms spend their pregnancy dreading it, mainly due to one simple thing – pain. The pain of giving labor has ruined many women's experiences delivering their babies, and in many instances the pain actually isn't as terrible as they had assumed it would be.
The pain of giving birth – or more specifically, the fear of that pain – is the main reason that so many women today use an epidural during their delivery. More than 60% of mothers today choose to use this method of pain relief during their labor and delivery, but many choose to utilize it without even fully understanding the effects of epidural procedures.
This is surprising, especially when you consider that an epidural will influence a tremendous part of your labor and delivery. Learning more about just how it does so is important for any woman who is pregnant, and understanding the various effects of epidural procedures – including the intended effects, the side effects and risks, and the misunderstood effects – is well worth doing.
The first step is to get one common misconception out of the way. An epidural absolutely won't remove all of the pain from childbirth, despite what some mothers to be assume. Doctors will instead administer an amount of medication that is just enough to dull the pain, not block it entirely. The reason is that numbing the lower body to the point that all pain is gone would actually stop labor completely, leading to major complications. The epidural can block nerve transmissions between the brain and the lower body, but don't plan on it working a miracle and totally eradicating the pain.
The basic effect of an epidural is pain relief, and it can help with this during childbirth. However, there are numerous potential side effects of epidural procedures that are worth mentioning as well. Using an epidural could cause a number of potential issues including:
• Decreased Blood Pressure – Epidurals can cause your baby's blood pressure to drop, sometimes to dangerously low levels. It's not a common issue, but it is one that could happen and as such it's worth keeping in mind.
• Prolonged Labor – Because the epidural blocks nerve signals, it could cause contractions to weaken, slow down, or stop altogether. This means that labor can last far longer than it normally would. While pain may be reduced to some degree, you could end up languishing in labor for longer than you should. Add to this the fact that a prolonged labor could put you or your baby at risk for potential health complications, and the risks of an epidural become very real.
• Increased Chance Of C-Section – Studies have found that women who use an epidural have a much higher chance of needing a C-section to deliver their baby. This is associated with the weakened contractions mentioned above, and if the epidural slows your labor too much your doctor may suggest a C-section surgery to complete the birth of your baby.
• Infection – Epidurals can cause infection, too, especially if they're done improperly or if problems occur. These infections can be minor or severe, and while they're not common they are a potential issue that is worth remembering.
• Headache Or Backache – Due to the location of an epidural, there is a chance of a complication developing caused by an improperly handled procedure. Puncturing the epidural sac could lead to fluid leaking out onto the spine. This in turn can trigger severe headaches or back pain, and these pains can persist for days, weeks, or in some cases for months following the delivery of a child. Using an epidural to escape pain during labor could cause serious pain to occur for an extended period of time.
Those are only the medical side effects of epidural procedures. There are also a couple of personal ones worth mentioning.
• Using an epidural will mean that you are unable to use some of the other pain relief methods moms can utilize. Things like changing positions during labor, getting in a birthing tub, or standing up for a short period of time will be impossible after having an epidural.
• Moms who have had children with the help of an epidural and without often report being happier and more satisfied with their epidural-free birth. They claim it makes them feel more capable as a mom, helps them bond with baby, and more.
An epidural is something you need to take some to consider. There is no question that it can dull the pain you feel during childbirth and help ease the process to some degree. But at the same time, it carries with it a number of risks that may mean it's not totally worth it for some moms. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before you make your decision about whether or not it's the best choice for you and your baby.
If you think that an epidural isn't the right choice for you, you are in luck becuase we have a great new product that can help you reduce pain if you want a natural drug-free birth. Check it out at the Laboraide Shop.
Photo credit: Mel B. / Foter / CC BY