Monday, October 15, 2012

Risks of an Epidural

In light of my recent post about the meningitis issue surrounding epidurals and other medications (see post here), I wanted to post a list of complications that can happen from epidural use. I feel that not only does an epidural potentially rob a woman of a significant part of her birth experience (not to say you can't have a good experience with an epidural, but it does take away part of the experience and if you have experienced both, you know what I mean), the epidural is also extremely overused and an expected part of labor in our country. Many women do not think twice before they get an epidural, and hospitals certainly do not give truly informed consent. Therefore, it's up to women to question epidural use and educate themselves. Epidurals should not be taken lightly and women should know the risks. Without further ado, here they are:

Toxic drug reaction, rash, itchiness, fever, allergic shock, infection, severe headache, nausea, frequent vomiting, frequent shivering, difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, convulsions, septic meningitis, fecal and urinary incontinence, bladder catheterization, bacterial meningitis, hypotension (can lead to emergency C-section), seizures, trauma, prolonged labor, weaker uterine contractions, inability to push baby out, increased likelihood of augmentation via Pitocin, increased likelihood of instrumental delivery, increased likelihood of episiotomy, increased likelihood of C-section, misplacement of the epidural catheter, accidental injection of anesthetic into the blood stream, post epidural headache, feelings of emotional detachment, decreased maternal-infant bonding, fetal drowsiness, fetal allergic reaction, fetal respiratory insufficiency, fetal distress, fetal hyperthermia, abnormal fetal heart rate, neonatal jaundice, poor fetal muscle strength, death of the baby, increased likelihood of post-partum depression, neurological complications, permanent nerve damage, chronic back pain, chronic migraines, chronic tingling sensation, prolonged numbness in lower limbs, chronic bladder dysfunction, loss of sensation and sexual function, damage to spinal cord, paraplegia, cardiac arrest, and maternal death.

It should also be noted that many of these risks are not remote possibilities, many of them are expected outcomes. 

If you'd like more information on the hidden risk of epidurals, check out this great article:

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