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What are the Effects of an Epidural?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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The primary effects of an epidural include a reduction in pain and control over the birthing situation for the mother. Side effects include low blood pressure, slowed labor, and shivering. Other effects of an epidural might include pain during the placement of the catheter or residual backache after labor. There is some evidence that an epidural can have an effect on the child being born as well, although some of these effects are caused by methods taken to withdraw the baby from the mother. Most people believe that there are both advantages and disadvantages to using epidural anesthesia, so a doctor should review the options in each specific case.

Some of the most important effects of an epidural are the intended effects. In most cases, an epidural is used to reduce pain to a manageable level for mothers in labor. It is highly effective in this area and is therefore quite frequently used. An epidural can also help a mother feel more in control of the labor situation rather than a victim of pain at the mercy of doctors. Whether an epidural is a positive or negative experience is largely dependent on the mother's personality and feelings about the subject.

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In addition to these main effects of an epidural, there are also side effects. Low blood pressure is likely the most common side effect, but many people report shivering as well. In addition to the direct physical side effects of the epidural, there are also the unintended consequences of being too numb to feel contractions. Mothers often have difficulty pushing and controlling their bladders when an epidural is used, which increases the amount of medical intervention necessary to have a safe birth.

Maternal death resulting from use of an epidural is very rare in places with sufficiently advanced medical facilities. Severe complications resulting from this type of anesthesia are also rare. Most claims that epidurals are extremely dangerous for infants come from perspectives that are highly critical of medically mediated birth in general. There is less evidence to support this perspective than there is to support the claim that epidurals are safe. While the longer effects of an epidural may be unpleasant and there is some risk involved, this type of procedure is considered medically appropriate.

Many people believe that the negative effects of an epidural far outweigh the positive effects. This is because an epidural places mothers and children at increased risk, with the only benefit being reduction in pain. Even so, reduction in pain is valuable to many mothers, and the risks are not severe. Choosing epidural anesthesia is a personal decision and should be respected by other parties involved.

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