Epidurals may be effective in relieving pain during labor, resulting in a fast and seamless delivery process but it also has certain risks. Not all women are wired for the level of pain relief that epidurals give especially those with a critical level of low blood pressure, bleeding, shocks or an infection. If you have also been on certain medications for blood thinning or low platelet counts, then an epidural can do more harm than good.
Here are some well-known risks and disadvantages associated with epidurals:
The fact that epidurals require an IV, for constant blood pressure checks and frequent fetal monitoring is a bad signal. An epidural could trigger low blood pressure. Again, the medications administered during an epidural session may lower blood pressure, temporarily cause blood flow cessation to your baby, thereby lowering the baby’s heart rate.
Epidurals may bring ease and comfort, but the journey to getting one is a tad inconvenient. To paint a picture, you have to be in specific position for about 15 minutes while the epidural is put in. Not only that, there will also be several minutes of waiting for the medication to take course.
Also bordering on comfort, is the process of administering the epidural itself. Often times, a catheter is threaded through the needle to the targeted part. This means that the catheter stays on throughout the labor process to enable a timely infusion of the medication. This is not exactly a comfortable situation.
The leakage of the spinal fluid, resulting in a severe headache is one of the side effects on an epidural. Sometimes, this is so severe that there would be need for a blood patch to relieve the headache.
Asides the headache, you may also experience other side effects such as backache, nausea, shivering, difficult urination and a ringing sensation in the ears.
Sometimes, the severity of the medication may cause the loss of some sensations in the leg and lower body. This not only prolongs pushing while in labor, it will keep you in bed, longer than planned after labor or you may only walk with assistance.
Epidurals make a woman susceptible to vacuum extraction or forceps delivery. This may put your baby through very critical lacerations and bruising risks.
Because you are unable to feel pain or sweat due to the numbness of an epidural, you are at risk of catching a fever while in labor as you have become unable to put out all the accumulated heat from your body.
Epidurals sometimes causes breathing damage or respiratory depression as well as a temporal or permanent nerve damage, especially where the catheter was inserted.