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Epidural is an anesthetic injection around the spinal cord to help relieve labor pain. The procedure blocks the pain signal from reaching your brain by numbing your waist down.
Although epidural is a pain relief procedure, it may pose some health risks to some women. This article highlights the pros and cons of using epidural.
1. Pain relief: It is one of the effective pain relief methods during childbirth. The procedure makes you fully conscious, feel less pain during labor, and have a fast delivery.
2. Helps when a baby gets stuck: If the baby gets stuck during delivery, an epidural is very helpful since you will not feel the pain when the baby is pulled out using forceps or other instruments.
3. Speed-up process: Getting epidural at mid-labor helps the woman release tension resulting in rapid dilation since the pelvic muscle is more relaxed. This helps the women to push the baby out.
4. Temporary soreness: The injection may cause temporary soreness at the site of injection which goes away within a week. It does not cause back pains as some women believe.
5. No postpartum depression: Since women experience less pain during childbirth, they are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression.
6. Release tension: Epidural calms down or leases tension on a woman without affecting her mental state. This makes her relaxed or even sleep during labor reducing the production of epinephrine stress hormone.
7. Useful in cesarean birth: During C-section, epidural makes the woman alert and involved in her childbirth while free from pain. It helps avoid general anesthesia risks.
8. Allow mother participation: Epidural narcotics doesn’t affect muscle functions and the mother can remain aware of the contractions, participate through breathing patterns or other comfort methods.
9. Rotation of baby: If the baby is facing the belly button instead of mother’s backbone, then epidural relax the pelvic muscle and allow the baby to rotate.
10. Hypertension: During labor, high blood pressure may pose danger and epidural may help reduce the risk.
1. Feel numb: When injected with the epidural drug, you feel numb from the uterus downwards. It paralysis some parts of your body for a short time.
Some women may feel slight pain
2. Headache: Some women may feel a headache which is commonly referred to as post-dural puncture headache after the spinal fluid gets to the brain.
3. Difficult urinating: It increases a chance that you may require a catheter to help you empty the bladder.
4. Neurological injury: In some rare cases, epidural can result in nervous system injury which may result in permanent paralysis of a woman.
5. Increase the chance of emergency C-section: Administering an epidural at the start of labor especially when the woman is below 5 cm dilated increases the chance of going for an emergency cesarean section.
6. Makes pushing less effective: Epidural reduces woman’s pushing ability and this lengthens the labor.
7. Drop in Blood pressure: Once the woman gets the anesthesia, she may experience a drop in the blood pressure and this can affect the mother if not treated immediately.
8. Drop in the fetal heart rate: Immediately after epidural, the baby may experience an abnormal drop in heart rate or low oxygen levels although in a few instances. This lead to C-section to save the baby.
9. Spinal infection: There is a small risk of spinal canal infections like meningitis and unusual bleeding around the spinal canal.
10. Rise in vaginal temperature: This results in treatment for both mother and baby for non-existent infection.