Having a baby is such an exciting time but we all know that there is some major pain involved. Many women opt for an Epidural to relieve this pain.
In fact, fifty percent of women today are now having epidurals and there’s no shame in that. I had one for all three of my babies and I enjoyed the heck out of them.
It allowed me to be present during the birthing experience instead of screaming into a pillow.
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But there’s plenty to learn about Epidurals before you go into the hospital. Me? I was clueless and I now know that I should have done my research.
Epidurals have Pros and Cons and it’s important to know what you’re in for. So let’s take a look!
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12 Epidural Side Effects You Need To Know About
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Your Epidural Won’t Happen The Second You Need It
When you get to the point where you feel like you absolutely need an Epidural, like 10 minutes ago, they’re gonna make you wait. It usually takes 45 minutes but can take as long as an Hour and A Half. Yikes!
Just like everything else in a hospital they have to order the procedure, do the paperwork, and then you have to wait your turn.
So that’s something you should consider. When they do get around to giving you one the relief is SO sweet. You are able to enjoy the experience so I think it’s worth it.
It starts to work immediately
As I was saying, the relief is sweet and it often starts right away. So at least you don’t have to wait any longer once they do the procedure.
Or Not At All
There’s some bad news though. Epidurals don’t work for everyone and that’s just the way it is. You will know when you have one.
My sister had one with her first and it did nothing at all. NOTHING. But with her second child, she had another and it worked just fine. This happens because sometimes they’re not inserted right.
It really has a lot to do with the skill of your Anesthesiologist so make sure you go to a reputable hospital.
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You May Get A Bad Headache
After having an epidural, you may develop a ‘post-dural puncture’ headache.
A Post Dural Puncture Headache is a severe headache felt at the front or back of your head.
It may get better when lying down and worse on sitting or standing. Along with a headache, you may experience neck pain, sickness, and a dislike of bright lights.
Not fun stuff but it doesn’t happen too often.
Getting An Epidural Can Really Hurt
Getting a needle stuck in your spine is not a fun business. You’d think the pain would be dim compared to the labor pain and it is somewhat. But if they hit you in the right spot it can be pretty bad.
The first one I had was just a good pinch. But the second epidural I had with my next pregnancy was really painful despite labor. It was as if they hit a nerve and I had this horrible dull ache shoot all through my back that was even worse than my labor pain for a minute.
Not trying to scare ya. But again, it’s well worth the pain relief and it only lasts a minute. If you can handle having a baby then this will be a breeze.
You May Get The Shakes
When your epidural kicks in you may begin shaking violently all over. It’s like really intense shivers.
I was told that this is caused by your body reacting to the medication causing an adrenaline rush. I have since Googled it to find more information but there’s not a lot online about why this happens.
It can happen at other times during your birthing experience too.
An Epidural Can Slow Down Labor And Interfere With Pushing
Sometimes an Epidural will slow down your whole birthing process. Occasionally contractions even stop but this is rare.
When this happens they will turn down the medication to get things moving again. So while you will have some pain relief you may have to feel some of the experience to keep things moving.
Pushing can become a problem too. Your pushing may not be effective because you simply cannot feel a thing. This happened to me and I pushed for three hours! Woo, I’m still tired and it’s been ten years. But he was really large, almost 10 pounds, and that was a big part of the issue.
You Will Need A Catheter
Because you are unable to feel and everything down there is paralyzed you won’t be able to urinate. You also won’t be able to feel when your bladder is full.
To resolve this issue they will give you an in and out catheter as they see fit. They gave me one about every two hours. Not fun but you can’t feel it so it’s not so bad.
You May Not Be Able To Move For Several Hours After Birth
It can take a while for the medicine to wear off. Even when it does start to wear off you’ll need assistance for a few more hours after that.
The first thing they wanted me to do was to go urinate after and I could still barely use my legs so they put me on this standing wheelchair to assist me and someone had to help me sit down. It’s pretty humbling but it’s all part of the process.
Epidural can cause the need for further medical intervention
Some say there’s an increased risk for C-Section with Epidural and some say there’s not. Even though there are studies that say they don’t I have interviewed Health Care Professionals in this field and they often agree that it does seem to increase the chances.
The problem here is that Epidurals increase the pushing stage a lot because you just can’t feel how to push appropriately. If this stage lasts more then 3 hours or so they may start talking c-section.
Or they may start considering Forceps or vacuum assistance.
An Epidural Can Affect The Baby
Most notably, these medications have been known to cause respiratory depression and decreased fetal heart rate in newborns. Though the medication might not harm these babies, they have subtle effects on the newborn.
Another possible side effect of an epidural with some babies is a struggle with “latching on” in breastfeeding. This can cause a delay in the whole breastfeeding process.
You May Get A Fever And That’s A Problem
Rarely an Epidural can cause a fever in the mother that can be dangerous to the baby.
Studies suggest epidurals induce an inflammatory response and boost cytokines levels that inflict neurologic damage. This is what starts the fever and if it gets above 101 degrees it could cause significant harm.
The fever can increase the risks of hypotonia, assisted ventilation, low Apgar scores, and early-onset seizures.
This doesn’t happen often so don’t worry too much.
Most women get an epidural and nothing at all goes wrong so your chances are really good that everything will go as planned.
Good Luck and enjoy your babe when she gets here.
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