Natural childbirth V: epidural side effects and risks

epidural

Before we dive into a discussion of epidural analgesia I’d like to clarify my intention in writing this series in light of some of the comments on previous articles.

The purpose of this series on natural childbirth is to demonstrate that homebirth is as safe – if not safer – than hospital birth for low risk pregnancies, and that medical interventions commonly used in hospital births such as epidurals, induction with synthetic oxytocin and cesarean sections have risks and complications that are often not communicated to pregnant women.

Currently fewer than 1% of births happen at home in the U.S., and I believe this is largely due to misconceptions about its safety. My intention here is to correct those misconceptions.

The purpose of this series is not to condemn the use of these interventions in all circumstances. All of them have their place, and can be very helpful and even life-saving (for mothers and babies) when used appropriately. In fact, I said the following in bold text at the end of the first article in this series:

I want to be clear: no matter where birth takes place, complications may arise that require medical intervention and I am 100% in support of it in these cases.

There is still much we don’t understand about birth, and even more we don’t have direct control over. In some cases, despite a woman’s best efforts to have a natural, undisturbed birth, complications arise that require medical attention (and transfer to a hospital if she started laboring at home). In these circumstances, I absolutely endorse taking advantage of whatever interventions may protect the health and safety of both the mother and baby. At the end of the day, that is far, far more important than the method by which the baby was born.

I also want to be clear that I am not judging women who choose to have hospital births, receive epidurals, induce with Pitocin or end up having a cesarean section. I respect the right of women to choose a method of childbirth that feels safe and comfortable for them.

My purpose, instead, is to tell the side of the story that women are often not told, and to raise awareness of the risks associated with these procedures so that when it comes time to make their own decision, women are adequately educated and informed to do so.

What is an epidural and how common are they?

Dr. Leonard J. Corning, a neurologist in New York, was the first physician to use an epidural. In 1885 he injected cocaine into the back of a patient suffering from spinal weakness and seminal incontinence.

Today, epidurals are by far the most popular method of pain relief during labor in U.S. hospitals. According to the Listening to Mothers II survey (2006), more than 75 percent of women reported that they received an epidural, including 71 percent of women who had a vaginal birth. In Canada in 2005-2006, 54 percent of women who gave birth vaginally used an epidural, and during those same years in England, 22 percent of women overall had an epidural before or during delivery.

In an epidural, a local anesthetic – still derived from cocaine – is injected into the epidural space (the space around the tough coverings that protect the spinal cord). Epidurals block nerve signals from both the sensory and motor nerves, which provides effective pain relief but immobilizes the lower part of the recipient’s body.

In the last decade, a new type of epidural has been developed (called “walking epidurals”) that reduce the motor block and allow some mobility.

Spinal analgesia (a.k.a. “spinals”) are also used for pain relief during labor, but unlike conventional epidurals, they allow women to move during labor. In a spinal, the analgesic drug is injected directly into the spinal space through the dura, producing fast-acting, short-term pain relief.

Epidurals have significant impacts on all hormones of labor

In the last article, Natural Childbirth IV: The Hormones of Birth, we discussed the exquisite orchestration of hormones during birth and the risks of interfering with the body’s natural hormone regulation.

Unfortunately, epidurals interfere with all of the hormones we discussed.

They inhibit beta-endorphin production, which in turn shuts down the shift in consciousness (“going to another planet”) that characterizes undisturbed birth.

Epidurals reduce oxytocin production or keep it from rising during labor. They also blunt the oxytocin peak that would otherwise occur at the time of birth because the stretching receptors of a woman’s lower vagina (which trigger the peak) are numbed.

As Dr. Sarah Buckley explains 1:

A woman laboring with an epidural therefore misses out on the final powerful contractions of labor and must use her own effort, often against gravity, to compensate for this loss. This explains the increased length of the second stage of labor and the increased need for forceps when an epidural is used.

Epidurals have also been shown to inhibit catecholamine (CA) production. Remember that CA can slow or stop labor in the early stages, but it promotes the fetus ejection reflex in the second stage of labor. Thus inhibiting CA production may make delivery more difficult.

Epidurals limit release of prostaglandin F2 alpha, a lipid compound that stimulates uterine contractions and is thought to be involved with the initiation of labor. Prostaglandin F2 alpha levels should naturally rise during an undisturbed labor. However, in one study women with epidurals experienced a decrease in PGF2 alpha and a consequent increase in labor times from 4.7 to 7.8 hours.

Epidurals interfere with labor and have side effects for mothers

Epidurals have been shown to have the following effects on labor and laboring mothers:

One important thing to note about these studies: in most of them, the women in the “control” groups were given opiate painkillers, which are also known to disrupt the natural hormonal processes of birth. We can assume, then, that a comparison of women using no drugs during labor would have revealed even more substantial differences.

Epidural also have side effects for babies

It’s important to understand that drugs administered by epidural enter the baby’s bloodstream at equal and sometimes even higher levels than those present in the mother’s bloodstream.

However, because babies’ immune systems are immature, it takes longer for them to eliminate epidural drugs. For example, the half-life of bupivacaine, a commonly used epidural analgesic, is 2.7 hours in an adult but close to 8 hours in a newborn. 2

Studies have found detectable amounts of bupivacain metabolites in the urine of exposed newborns for 36 hours following spinal anesthesia for cesarians.

Some studies have found deficits in newborn abilities that are consistent with the known toxicity of drugs used in epidurals.

Other studies have found that local anesthetics used in epidurals may adversely effect the newborn immune system, possibly by activating the stress response.

There is evidence that epidurals can compromise fetal blood and oxygen supply, probably via the decrease in maternal blood pressure that epidurals are known to cause.

Epidurals have been shown to cause fetal bradycardia, a decrease in the fetal heart rate (FHR). This is probably secondary to the decrease in maternal CA caused by epidurals which in turn leads to low blood pressure and uterine hyper-stimulation.

Epidurals can cause maternal fever, which in turn may affect the baby. In a large study of first-time moms, babies born to mothers with fever (97% of whom had epidurals) were more likely to be in poor condition (low APGAR scores) at birth, to have poor tone, to require resuscitation and to have seizures in the newborn period, compared to babies born to mothers without fever.

Older studies using the more exacting Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS, devised by pediatricians) rather than the newer, highly criticized Neurologic and Adaptive Capacity Score (NACS, devised by anesthesiologists – can you say “conflict of interest”?) found significant neurobehavioral effects in babies exposed to epidurals.

In one such study, researchers found less alertness and ability to orient, and less mature motor abilities, for the first month of life. These findings were in proportion to the dose of bupivacaine administered, suggesting a dose-related response.

Epidurals may interfere with mother-baby bonding and breastfeeding

Some studies suggest that epidurals may interfere with the normal bonding that occurs between mothers and babies just after birth.

In one study, mothers given epidurals spent less time with their babies in the hospital. The higher doses of drugs they received, the less time they spent.

In another study, mothers who had epidurals described their babies as more difficult to care for one month later than mothers who hadn’t had an epidural.

It’s important to note that neither of these studies prove that epidurals were the cause of the behavioral changes observed. However, if epidurals were at fault, the effects are most likely caused by their interference with the natural orchestration of hormones we discussed in the previous post, and may also be influenced by drug toxicity and the complications associated with epidural births: long labors, forceps and cesareans.

There is also evidence that epidurals may decrease breastfeeding efficiency.

In one study, researchers used the Infant Breastfeeding Assessment Tool (IBFAT) and found scores highest amongst unmedicated babies, lower for babies exposed to epidurals and IV opiates, and lowest for babies exposed to both.

A large prospective study found that women who had used epidurals were more than 2 times as likely to have stopped breastfeeding by 24 weeks compared with women who used non-pharmacological pain relief.

Conclusion

Epidural analgesia is a highly effective form of pain relief and a useful intervention in certain circumstances.

However, epidurals and spinals also cause unintended side effects in both the mother and baby, and interfere with the natural birth process and bonding between mother & baby.

In some cases epidurals may be beneficial, but the evidence suggests that they should not be used as routinely as they currently are in the U.S. and other industrialized countries.

Articles in this series:

  1. Buckley S. Gentle birth, gentle mothering: a doctor’s guide to natural childbirth and early parenting choices. Celestial Arts 2009. pp.117
  2. Hale TW. Medications and Mother’s Milk. 12. Amarillo, TX: Hale Publishing; 2006.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Olga says

    The “inhibit catecholamine (CA) production”, “increase in labor times from 4.7 to 7.8 hours” and “more than 2 times as likely to have stopped breastfeeding” links cannot be opened

    =(

  2. monica says

    I want to know if epidural cause autism or not. The recent study of University of MI was talking about the relation btw recent trend of painless scheduled delivery and the recent increase of autism in US. I am scared to have a verginal natural birth, but also I am afraid of side effect of the painless delivery.

  3. SomeoneSensible says

    For all the commenters on this thread…its good to share & read people’s experiences – only if its non-judgemental…Most of the people using Epidural are not shunning natural birth- but so many of the people supporting natural birth are actually being judgemental about people who opt for Epidural – why?

    The very first comment on this article (I realise its 3 years old, but am sure many people will continue to use the argument) states that why be afraid of something natural? By that logic, falling sick & death is also natural – but don’t people fear them?

    And lastly definitely want to thank the commenter “Epidural Guy” for his comments seem to come from a experienced & well-researched place. As someone who has recently found out about her pregnancy, this is something I still want to research into & being able to see all sides of the story definitely helps…..

    • says

      I just want to re-iterate one thing: natural birth is not about the process, it is about the outcome, a healthy child and a healthy mother. You don’t have to please your midwife, obstetrician or anesthetist. Every approach has its risks, and the best way to go is to research the subject of childbirth in detail and decide which way is most comfortable for you. Also, labor is a very dynamic process, so be prepared for things to change quickly.

  4. Kayla Graf says

    Thank you so much for this information!! This has helped me think things through for whats to come in the next 3 months

  5. Missi says

    I had my son when I was 15 years old. I was in labor for 19 hours before I requested an epidural. The pain of labor for me was so intense and terrifying that it took me 15 more years to agree to have another baby. My son was 9 pounds 14 oz. He was huge. I was able to relax after the epidural and was finally able to dilate. delivered him 1 hour later. I did have to have an episiotomy but I think with as large as he was and as small as I am, At the time 5 foot tall, 110 pounds, small hipped, I wouldn’t have been able to deliver vaginally with out the episiotomy. I will probably request a epidural again if my labor is long, or the baby is very large again. I didn’t have a problem bonding with my son. I don’t have any pelvic floor muscle issues, kegals took care of that. My hospital stay was longer than usually, 5 days, but I went in with pneumonia and didn’t realize I had it as shortness of breath was my only real symptom and that happens all the time in late pregnancy. I didn’t have a problem pushing with my contractions when the time came and he seemed to finally come out after I was able to relax. My uterus is tipped though which may have led to some of my labor complications and pain as well. I think every one is different and feels pain differently because their bodies are different. I wouldn’t have ever agreed to this pregnancy with out the epidural I had with my son. It was already traumatizing enough and painful enough for me to delay having another child 15 years. I don’t care what any one says you do not forget the pain of labor. It was indeed the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, still to this day. And was in a major car accident 5 years ago with several broken bones and bad head injury that I now get chronic migranes from. I shudder and cringe at the thought of going through labor and delivery again in 5 weeks.

  6. Brenda says

    Such a wonderful post, I gave birth to my son naturally and it is such a wonderful feeling, to feel everything that is part of nature. I recommend all future mothers to go natural, and most importantly breastfeed! my son is 11 months now and is still breastfed and the bond between mother and baby is so wonderful and strong!

  7. Twinmom says

    I had identical twins so that was considered high risk, delivered at 37 weeks vaginally but my doc told me it was statistically best to be induced at this time frame with identicals, (mono-di) they didnt even get to the pitocin and I went into labor but I did get an epidural regrettably, because they told me that it did not affect the babies at all and my contractions were crazy- I feel so naive. If there is a next time, at least I will know better. How can the docs tell you that there are no side effects on the baby when that is just not true?

  8. Aparna Shetty says

    Hi Chris
    Does C-sec with injection causes pain after so many year for child birth??..I had C-sec because my son swallowed meconium. he was born on 2010..but now I am feeling the pain in my back where injection was given.I didn’t get much chance to rest, since I didn’t had any help…what could be the reason for my pain?

  9. yolanda says

    I have 5kids and 4of them naturally no epidural I had no knowledge of epidurals just knew people got them so they don’t feel contractions I just had my 5th baby on January 06,2014 but my due date wasn’t until the 24th due to very high blood pressure and risk of going into seizure I ended up getting an epidural and boy did I feel like a coward I really tried my best and hardest to go all natural as I did my other births but gave in I can’t argue with the fact that it did help my blood pressure go down a bit and I felt more relaxed at the time that is…. how I came across this article is I’m 3weeks post partum and my back is killing me not a back rub, heat pad, hot shower has helped it :( and I assume it’s because of the dam epidural trust me it is not worth it and I do agree on the breastfeeding part too because I couldn’t even latch my babygirl on and only ended up breastfeeding 2days and stopped do to tore up nipples it broke my heart that I wouldn’t be able to share that bond with her I get teary eyed bc of it I wish I would have done more research on epidurals but whats done is done dam blood pressure!

    • says

      Unfortunately this is a natural reaction, to connect whatever problem after labor with epidural. You had complicated pregnancy and – judging by the fact that the pain was considerably stronger than during your previous labors – complicated delivery. Back pain is a very common complication of pregnancy (http://www.allaboutepidural.com/epidural-and-back-pain), and, according to the current clinical evidence, epidural does not cause it. The same with breastfeeding: somehow the problems have nothing to do with complicated pregnancy, high blood pressure or difficult labor, it should all blamed on epidural?

  10. Lilie says

    I completely disagree with some of these comments, even the ones of people who have been through it, or seen it for years. Especially the one who said a mother can completely stay still for an epidural but are wiggling all around during all the other contractions. First off, maybe for some women it is mental or visual, that when they see it they focus on it etc. I tried natural birth. I was teaching yoga all until I went to the hospital thinking “I got this”. After 12 hours of breathing through the very intense contractions that were only getting worse I was completely depleted of any and all energy I was using through that whole time. I was told I only was 4 cm. I opted for the epidural and any other medication until the epidural got there. I didn’t need to look at the monitor because the pain was very real. Yes I was able to muster up all the energy I could to stay still for that epidural because A. I needed it to work, and B. I did not want to be crippled or have some horrible outcome if I moved. That does not mean I could have stayed still and endured countless contractions. That means for that moment I used all I had. Yes there is mind over matter, but for how long. The body can endure a lot and I know I overcame so much, especially through my yoga practice. I come to love overcoming pain. But my mother warned me. She had 3 horrible painful deliveries and said I was crazy to think I was not going to experience the same. She need blood and was hospital bound for a week after my sister. My brother, her last child, was the easiest for her, but still a horrific painful experience. My cousins wife barely made it to the hospital before giving birth to her second son. For her it was very easy. I think all our bodies are different and the birth different. I had 3 births so far and all pretty different. My threshold for pain is at 4 cm. After that it is horrifying. I asked for less of a drip on my son (the 12 hour natural labor described above) and as I was about to give birth to him finally after 18 hours, I felt it and it was terrifying, even with epidural drip. I commend the women that can do it but don’t think all of us can. I’m sure for every story that someone says they did it naturally, another person almost died or did die giving birth. Don’t knock us that need it.

    • Demas Griffin says

      Agree with you. Its modern day people choose epidural more than go with natural birth. If it something could risk yourself giving birth on natural why should pushing yourself to go with that way. Some people have some different labor method that they preferred, and it no one business. Instead of blaming one another on the comment that I read maybe you should just take the knowledge to yourself on what you belief or you not belief. One of friend that I know died from the natural birth due to that her body not able to endure the pain and the giving birth is not something you can judge people decision. No hurt feeling I just said the right opinion that I think is positive. People out there whatever you think what is right for yourself you don’t have to argue someone else opinion. Just waste your time. It not your business in life. Thanks. I’m so sick of people argue with one another for some random discussion/info about things!

    • Daleth says

      I totally agree, and I’m sorry you had to go through that much pain. We are all different and it’s kind of obnoxious for anyone to go around saying “Women in labor don’t need epidurals! Med-free is the only way to go!” There is NOT only “one right way” to have a baby! Some women do need epidurals. Several women I know say their labors were stalled by sheer exhaustion until they got the epidural, which let them rest for a little while without pain, and then they were finally able to push.

    • says

      If laboring with working epidural was terrifying maybe elective cesarean is a better option for you. Compared with vaginal delivery in terms of complications cesarean is pretty much “horses for horses”. I am going to address elective cesarean in the next article on my site. For now it is sufficient to say that it is fairly safe.

  11. Chanel says

    I’m a labor & delivery nurse (only 4 years in labor and delivery, so I’m not the most experienced) but I’ve also had 3 children. Women may get angry at me but a lot of it’s in their heads. I don’t mean to say that labor pains do not hurt but I honestly believe the reason they hurt so bad is because when you’re in labor (especially at the hospital) you only focus ON the pain. When you’re in a hospital you’re in a different environment surrounded by strangers and you’re hooked up to a machine that tells you when you’re having a contraction. I’ve noticed that when i talk my patients they wouldn’t seem in as much pain until they’d look at the machine and see that it’s showing they’re having a contraction. They don’t seem to even realize it until it’s pointed out to them and almost all of them decide they want epidurals. They’re freaking out screaming and wiggling around all over the bed because it hurts so bad but once the anesthesiologist gets in there and its told that they have to stay completely still they sure can sit still for the next few minutes through all of those contractions that were too hard to handle before and you know why? Because they’re not focusing on them at that moment. They don’t even move a muscle because they’re focused or scared about the epidural instead of the contractions. With my 3 girls I labored mainly at home with the first one and waited until I was a few hours into labor to go to the hospital because I just didn’t feel like I needed to be there yet. I was calm, at ease and honestly it didn’t really hurt. There were a few moments here and there but I was in my own house, I’d do laundry, clean dishes, I took a shower if it was getting worse and used the shower head to help with back pains and once I felt like it had been long enough I went to the hospital and not to long afterwards I had my first daughter. I got pregnant again only two months after my daughter was born (crazy Yeah I know) and was very shook up about having another baby. When my first daughter was 4 months old she kept getting UTIs very bad and at one point got such a high fever that she even had to be resuscitated so of course I was scared and I wanted to be at the hospital the entire time I was in labor with my next daughter. Maybe it’s just because I was stressed during my pregnancy but I went through hell at that hospital. Unlike at home, I couldn’t do anything to take my mind off the pain. I got to lay down in a bed and think of how much I was hurting and I wasn’t allowed to eat and I had to use the bathroom in front of people I just met so I was not comfortable at all. I got an epidural and had such a hard time pushing because I felt like I couldn’t control myself. Eventually I got her out and she was so tired as was I. I honestly had no interest in her until I took her home and felt better. My third pregnancy I decided I wanted to do just as I did with my first and wait until I was farther along in my labor to go to the hospital and I did so much better than before. I believe through and through that most of labor pain is only worsened by the fact that you sit there and focus on it.

    • HorrifiedMom says

      Chanel- your comments about mothers not even noticing they’re having a contraction until it’s pointed out to them or that they are able to sit still for the epidural because they’re afraid of it and not really in that much pain- is extremely offensive! I was induced as a first time mother and although my contractions were becoming painful I opted to have my water broken before deciding whether I wanted an epidural or not, and the very instant they broke my water I had a contraction and it was so incredibly intense and painful I screamed and was so scared because I knew I couldn’t bare those contractions, there are not words to describe how intensely painful they were, and no amount of distraction would have been able to ease the pain of them, the hospital walls could have been crumbling down next to me and I wouldn’t have cared. Maybe it was the pitocin that made them so horrible, but either way they were unbearable. My anesthesiologist finally came in and when I was told to stay completely still at first I couldn’t, then I had to muster up every last bit of strength, mental and physical, to stay completely still because with as much pain as I was in if I continued having contractions like that I don’t know that I would have been able to maintain my consciousness. So just pointing out that everyone is different and especially as a l&d nurse you really shouldn’t be so judge mental towards others experiences, and at such an important time in their lives it would be awful to have someone on their team who isn’t being supportive.

  12. Nychol says

    Please forgive me I left out in my previous comment that I was stuck twice due to the first time was in the wrong spot, or what they said it fell out? I was numb 10 minutes and suddenly thr pain was coming back to the point I was about to faint because of the severity of it. They then inserted another drug realizing it had no effect they then checked my cath and seen it was not in correctly altho I felt the cold sensation of the drug being injected it didnt numb. So they re-stuck me. The pain was so extreme I was all for it. But sadly I do have regrets.

  13. Nychol says

    Thanks for this article,
    I am for natural child birth, however with my 2nd delivery I was induced with pitocin it was extermely painful after several hours I requested the Epidural due to the immense pain. My first was painful yet nothing compares to artificial oxytocin. Labour lasted into 20 hours fully numb waist down. After pain staking hours I felt the baby drop and 2 pushes she arrived into the light. No ripping in the vaginal tissues no complications. From my own opinion the labour was prolonged due to already needing to be induced I was42 weeks already. Having the pitocin was the worst and epidurals are almost a must, having natural contractions produced by oxytocin are much easier to endure thus leaving it easier to birth without Epidural. As agian my own opinion I admit since the epidural and delivery I havent been the same, back pain, and bubbling fluid drain down from the base of my skull down the neck with severe migraines/vision problems. Is this related? So for next time I may seek other alternatives to having the “Epidural.”

  14. Jose Luis Meseguer says

    First of all, Mr. Kresser, thanks for your article and talking about this important topic.

    I have found this article that compares several studies about the impact of analgesia, specifically epidural, in labour:
    http://bja.oxfordjournals.org/content/105/suppl_1/i50.full

    The article concludes that epidural increases labour duration and risk of instrumental vagina delivery. On the other hand, it concludes that the risk of C-section does not change between natural labour and epidural labour.

    The article specifically mentions the Thorp article you refer to about the increase of C-section risk and points out several flaws in its methodology. I therefore would not use such a reference in your article without saying it’s controversial, when there are many other studies that do not show this tendency… Your article is well written and well-informed, and it’s a pity to have such an obvious flaw in it, and it can feel misleading to an objective party.

    (and now, my anecdotal evidence)
    I was recently (5 days ago) father of a beautiful girl. My wife initially requested epidural or analgesics, but finally went without it when they told her labour was going to be quick and the midwifes gave her the option not to take analgesics. She is very happy she did without, even though the pain was obvious and she had to endure the painful contractions, specially the last 1,5 hours.
    About her experience, she said she was more in control of the contractions and the urge to push and probably that was the reason she did not tear. She has recovered very quickly in just a few days and the baby was active and bonding with us from the very first minute.
    I myself was more in favour of a natural birth, but never told her as I wanted her to be fully in control of her birth plan without needing to please anybody else but her, as she was the main actress of the experience.

    Again, thanks for the article and hope to see more of these coming.

    • says

      The use of Thorp’s original article is very common – obviously, for the purpose of scaring women away from epidurals. Which is a pity, because Thorp himself is a very professional researcher: in 1998 review he addressed the flaws of his earlier works and, based on the data available at the time, came to the conclusion that epidurals do not increase the risks of cesarean. Curiously, his initial work got stuck with midwives until today.

  15. Jennifer says

    This goes to show you, don’t believe every cute doctor picture/blog posted on the internet….

    YOU ARE INCORRECT ABOUT SPINALS….

    Spinals (spinal anesthesia) does not allow motor movement. That is why they are used during c-sections, when you want the patient immobile and pain-free for surgery. The do provide fast-acting analgesia and immobility, however the general dose given for a c-section will last 8-12hours, not something I call short-term. You will be able to lift you legs with an epidural, NOT WITH A SPINAL.

    I was interested in reading this article as a pregnant women about to give birth any day now, but as an ANESTHESIA PROVIDER I do not believe a word you say anymore after reading how incorrect you are on the basics.

    WOMEN GOOD LUCK IN WHATEVER YOU DECIDE. CHOOSE MEDICAL JOURNALS WITH FACTUAL STUDIES FOR YOUR “DOES WORK/DOES NOT WORK” STATEMENTS.

    I PLACE EPIDURALS, BUT MAY NOT USE ONE MYSELF FOR LABOR. ALL WOMEN SHOULD CHOOSE WHAT THEY WANT FOR THEIR BODY AND THERE IS NO SHAME IS WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE!

    FOR THE RECORD: The Adult Spinal Cord ends at L1 and then what is below is known as the “horse’s tail” of nerve fibers. THERE IS NO RISK TO PUNCTURING THE SOLID SPINAL CORD WITH A NEEDLE DURING SPINAL OR EPIDURAL PLACEMENT AT L2-L3 OR L4-L5 BECAUSE THE CORD IS JUST NOT THERE, IT’S THE NERVE FIBERS “HORSE’S TAIL” THAT THEY ARE BATHING IN THE ANESTHETIC SOLUTION. ***ONLY EXCEPTION IS IF THE MOTHER HAS A TETHERED CORD, BUT THAT SHOULD BE IN HER HISTORY FROM CHILDHOOD***

    *SOAPBOX COMPLETE*

    • says

      I wonder where you got your information. Let me address every point of your post.

      1. The density of sensory and motor block is dose dependent. In my practice I do lots of combined spinal-epidural blocks in labor. Spinal bolus consists of 1.5 ml of 0.2% Ropivacaine with fentanyl. Ropivacaine at this concentration does not cause significant motor block, and the woman is able to move her legs comfortably. Spinal dose for cesarean section, on the other hand, is achieved by 2.5 ml of Bupivacaine, which indeed produces dense motor block. Similarly, epidural with high concentration local anesthetic will produce dense motor block (some anesthetists prefer doing epidurals for cesarean section, not spinal, to have the option of extending the block if necessary).

      2. The block lasts for up to two hours, not twelve. anaesthetists know this very well, because when caesarean takes longer than the usual 45 minutes the block starts to wear off and the patients starts feeling pain. In this situation we usually convert to general anesthesia.

      3. Integrity is another issue. The proof of mine: I gave my wife spinal anesthetic for her second caesarean. She is still married to me (that proof that everything was ok).

      4. In the vast majority of people spinal cord does end at L1. True, aberrant variants are possible, and often it is not possible to know about it before giving spinal block. However, touching the spinal cord with the needle produces such sharp pain that the woman literally jumps off the table, and the probability of seriously damaging the spinal cord is low. In my twenty years of practice I have not come across a patient with the spinal cord longer than normal. Still, direct injury to the spinal cord with spinal and epidural needles has been described, but it is very rare: http://www.allaboutepidural.com/can-i-get-paralyzed-from-epidural

      One statement I wholeheartedly agree with: women should choose what they are comfortable with. That is why: educate yourself, find out more about your options, risks and benefits of every intervention. It is your body. Avoiding an epidural does not mean you’re doing “well” and getting it does not mean failure. You’re doing well if you leave labor ward with a healthy baby and free of injury.

  16. Valerie says

    I just had my first on 09-13-13 the nurses were in shock when I told them I didn’t want the epidural. She obviously didn’t believe me because she asked me to sign off for it and I told them I wanted to go natural. After 7 hours of labor my baby was stresed and I stopped dilating. My obgyn came in and told me I didn’t have a choice because my baby pooped! I cried for an hour before they did the epidural. Even though I had to get it with my first I want to try natural with my second!!!!!

  17. L says

    My mother had extremely hard births, to the point where she needed a family member to come in and donate blood. All vaginal. I had my first very young, so of course I had an epidural. Left a horrible taste in my mouth since it seemed I was progressing quickly but pain got so bad and bf was NOT helping that I took the epidural. Right after I fell asleep. I woke at about 8am. Felt between my legs with my hand and it was very sticky and wet. I assumed my water broke. I could not move at all from my chest down. The nurse got loud and angry asking me to lift my leg, and then the doctor told her I couldn’t. They had to lift my limp legs. I pretended to push and had him 28 minutes later. I felt absolutely nothing. But boy did I have a cute little baby. Because of this 10 years later with my second son, I swore on having a natural birth. My mother thought I was crazy and wouldn’t even discuss it with me except to warn me “not to be stupid”. I was a yoga instructor and taught up until the week I had him so I surely had the deep breathing tools, etc. Well my labor started at about midnight, and peaked at noon (12 hours). I thought for sure he’d come any minute. I had absolutely no energy left and the pain was not subsiding but in stead growing much more intense and lasting longer. I looked at my husband who was completely out of it and had no energy left either, but was ready to go to bat at my command. They checked me and I was only 4 cm. There is no way I could have done it!!! I ended up going for all of it. 6 hours later, with an oxygen mask, and completely overwhelmed, tired, and hungry, I finally had my baby. I felt it a little this time. Asked for 9 cc’s instead of 10 dripping. Felt it get worse and worse culminating to the end. There is no way I could have ever endured that pain. My sister had her first son without meds. It was a nightmare for everyone involved. Some people just can’t! Their body is not built in that way to endure it. My cousin’s wife, on the other hand, barely made it to the hospital with her second child and had him immediately and said, “I wish this for every women.” It was that easy for her! I WISH!!!!! I did really well for 12 hours, I will give myself that. I even had a tub in the room and a shower I was going between. What can help me because I am pregnant again and am will to try one more time.

  18. Sandra Barwick says

    I was a mother in one of the early trials of inducted labour with mobile anaesthesia at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London, in 1995. I am still very, very angry, 18 years later. I was over 9 months when they began to induce me with chemicals, but I was a first time mother and I think, had I been left, I would have had the baby on my own. Being brought into hospital in itself, I think, caused my body to shut down. I had three days of labouring to no effect. By the second day my baby turned round in the womb so her backbone scraped against mine. It was agony. I couldn’t rest: I spent that night kneeling against the bed so the weight of the baby moved forward. At one point that night I went to the window of the ward and looked out onto the flat roof where i could see the train running. I actually wondered if I could force open the window, climb out and escape. If I had not been so heavily pregnant that I could no longer climb I would have gone. By the third morning of no sleep I knew I was running out of the energy to give birth. After my husband had argued for a while with the ward sister my waters were manually broken and I was taken to a delivery suite. The pain of the contractions with the baby scraping my spine was excrutiating. I was so pleased to have the epidural, with the drip on wheels so I could go to the loo. And then after hours it came to the birth, and the anaesthetic stopped, and I was told to push, because I had no idea when to push, because all my natural instincts were numbed. It still hurt though. I remember thinking: I hope this is not a girl, I hope that this baby does not have to go through this. And then it was clear she was not coming out. I thought: “I am like a fox caught in a trap, it is as though I have to gnaw my leg off to get free. I just have to push the baby out whatever the pain.” And I did that, despite the lack of sleep ( I was 40 years old), and I ripped from vagina to anus, and the womb itself ripped. I lay bleeding like a slaughtered chicken (my husband’s simile) and heared the doctor say to the midwife: “OK, I’ll stitch the muscle if you stitch the flesh.” It took the two of them an hour to stitch me up. I won’t describe the pain and indignity of the aftermath, and the difficulties it put in the path of bonding with the child who was, greatest of ironies, a girl.

  19. Wanderdust says

    thanks for this article. I had my first two naturally without any pain medication. Epidurals are awfully tempting for our third because I’ve been reading about others who did it that way. But no matter how birth happens, it’s not pleasant at the time and all us mothers share that bond no matter how we give birth. They say it’s like the pain of breaking 20 bones at the same time. But this article has a lot of reasons why going it natural may ultimately be best for mom and baby, despite being much more painful!

  20. says

    I will repeat it again and again: in general epidurals are very safe. Are they 100% safe? No. Epidural can lead to devastating complications, including paralysis and life long pain. On the other hand, the chances of getting these complications are very low. So: do not rely on tales of friends, doctors or midwives, never mind if they are pro or against epidurals. Instead, do proper research and decide for yourself if the risks of epidural are worth its benefits. Facts, not opinions or anecdotes.

  21. Nathalia says

    I had my first baby without meds, but I was given pitocin after 12h of labour because the baby was fairly big and got stuck, causing the labor to stop. My baby was born after a total of 25h laboring, no epi or pain relief, loads of episiotomy, needles to say, I suffered hell and as far as the pelvic pavement goes, I couldn’t sit for about a month. So far for the natural birth experience. Second time around, I had to be induced because I had gestational diabetes, I was really upset because I was hoping on a totally natural delivery (this time the baby was also average so I hoped the expulsion would create less problems), I ended up asking for an epidural when the contractions became stronger, I just didn’t feel in a brave mood that day. Turns out it was the best decision I ever made: I was relaxed, could stop suffering for a while, I still felt the contractions, especially the very strong last ones, was perfectly able to push through these contractions and it took 40 minutes after the epidural and 5 minutes of expulsion to get the baby out. I will breastfeed for 6 months like I did with my first, and I don’t see why the epi would keep me from loving or taking care of my second child. Actually, because of the great experience I had, I might even consider to have a third child in a couple of years. So actually, I used to defend the naturally in all things and especially in birthing, but not on this very argument, not anymore :-)

  22. says

    People don’t understand that even though an epidural isn’t very life threatening it doens’t mean that it isn’t at all. Most likely most women will have a n epidural becuase it is easy and the number of women that have complications are very slim, BUT! what if you are that woman. Do you want to take that chance. be the one that says, “It won’t happen to me”.

    The alternative is also simple and it has nothing to do with chemicals. It might not be as good and as painless as an epidural but it gets very close.

    I like to use the condem analogy: Sex might be more fun without a condem but for those few minutes you might get some STD and suffer all your life.
    True, Labor is a little longer but the effects of a bad epidural reaction could last a life time. So think about it.

  23. says

    I had the luck of having a water birth with a Midwife, I can say I do not regret it one bit, I loved the experience, I cannot say the pain was nothing, because it is painful but the water works miracles, I was falling asleep between contractions everything worked just fine, Something that helped me was having my sister and my partner caress my feet and forehead, it reduced the pain incredibly. All I can say is that we need to trust our bodies, they are so wise and perfect creators of life. I researched this so much, this was my first baby and I feel so proud of myself because I endured it and I got to enjoy all the love hormones and the greatest rush I have ever felt. Once he was born all the pain disappeared, He was so alert since day one. up till now I try not to use chemicals on his body at all and I watch what I eat and what I feed him, as I am still breastfeeding after a year and I know all these choices have been for the best, He has never gotten sick, only one cold so far. Moms please research everything you do, Your child depends on your choices and you cannot afford to make bad decisions with someone else’s life.

  24. yolanda says

    I decided to have an epidural after my ninth child. I can say my daughter and I came out very well. No side effects and me and my daughter bonded very well after ward. If I had to use an epidural again I would. .

  25. Epidural guy says

    The risk of epidural is very low, lower than that of driving a car. There is no advantage of waiting to dilate to a specific number of cm before asking for epidural; as soon as labor is established you can have an epidural. Prolongation of labor with epidural varies, and some studies even state that superior pain relief makes labor progress faster. So in your case it is not necessarily the epidural that resulted in longer labor.

    I said it many times: the desire to avoid pain does not make you a worse person or a bad mother. There is absolutely nothing good about labor pain.

  26. nermina says

    Hi there,
    Im now 37 weeks, second baby and YES i plan the epidural. I took it too with my first kid and had no complains whatsoever. I couldnt dialate for six days i was having contractions. I was so exhausted and in pain that i demanded epidural when i open up 4cm. Me generally having low pain treshold i feel the smallest pain double hard than others. The contractions themselves were too traumatic for me so i took the risk coz i was soo anxious about the pain. Thanks God everything went fine. It did though prolong labour…but thats about it. Im so scared of the pain that honestly i gladly take the risk. And as an afterthought to add: even with the epidural it was painful enough for me! Cant imagin how it is without!
    Call me spoiled,call me a coward…whatever…i still support the epidural. :)

  27. Mireille says

    …but I do have to say…a wonderful advantage of delivering in a hospital is the fact that you’re able to have ultrasounds done, they can tell whether or not the cord is around baby’s neck, whether or not baby’s in breech position and if baby’s heart bit is still normal, if baby’s already in distress. And if any of those happen, then at least you have the peace of mind they do a c-section quick and they’re able to save your baby. If these happen and you’re home, and have no idea there is actually something going wrong….how can you save that baby?! They used to deliver home a lot back in the past, but back then they used to have 6-7 babies and even more…and if 3-4 got lost in the way, not a big problem, there’s still some left…things changed now. Women don’t feel like they should be constantly pregnant just to get out of the woods with one child or two. Now women most likely have one or two pregnancies and obviously want to make sure their babies survive all, not just….34.5% of them. My bottom line is…I would advise any pregnant woman to give birth where they could do something IF something goes wrong. But go in there prepared, well informed, careful and inquiring on everything they’re trying to inject into them, know they have the right to deny a certain service they’re not comfortable with, and be firm about it.

    When my OBGYN arrived to the hospital to see me, I was dilated to 3.5. But before she walked in the room, I felt like using the bathroom (empty frequently so you won’t get an infection). While in the bathroom, my monitor got switched over on my belly and once I got back in the room and hook it up, it won’t read the contractions correctly. And that’s exactly what my OBGYN read — barely any contractions. She left telling me she’ll be back in the morning (it was midnight!). The nurse came in the room telling me she’ll start me on Pitocin, based on my doctor’s orders.

    I told her No! I personally feel my contractions are going pretty strong and did not feel I need any ‘help’. I was very firm about it and told her if the doctor loves Pitocin so much, she’d better go on it. My husband checked my monitor and figured out what the issue really was! Only an hour and a half later my baby was out, without the need of any Pitocin! I could have been injected with that thing just because the doctor read a malfunctioning monitor, but I trusted my instincts and said Stop!! before the trouble happened! I advise any woman to be extra careful, checking on them and double checking!

    Obviously, my OBGYN showed up when everything was too late! The baby was out for quite a few hours already — 2 residents delivered my baby. Luckily, they paged another doctor and he did show up, but didn’t have to do a thing — the 2 very young residents handled the job magnificently!

    So yes…I was lucky, but we do create, produce our own luck, too! Be lucky! Trust yourself! Know your rights! Know you deserve the best and ask for it!!

  28. Mireille says

    I gave birth to two daughters. Both natural, without epidural. However, I must say, I wish I was as brave as other women and not need pain killers at all. They gave them to me both times, through the IV. First birth, I had no idea what was going to happen, I said better spare me the pain :) but they could not put the epidural in place because I was so shaky. Whatever they injected in the IV was so strong, I couldn’t feel a thing. Luckily my husband realized and told them to decrease the dosage. But it took me hours of pushing until I finally got the job done! :( they had to mention the word ‘c-section’ and that motivated me! Half an hour later, she was already out! :) Second time…my platelets were way too low for an epidural … I waited until I was dialeted to 7 to ask for painkillers through IV and I requested smallest dosage possible. It gave me half an hour to regain my strength and when I felt like pushing, had them check me, I was fully dialeted indeed, I needed one contraction for the head and one for the body! :) I had total control over my pushing, unlike first delivery when they overmedicated me and could not feel a thing! So I guess taking the pain does have its advantages — motivates one get the job done faster! :) I do admire the women who can go without any painkiller whatsoever! Not so much my first time, but second time I really , honestly tried hard to deliver without any pain meds. But I wasn’t strong enough :( but I do thank God for keeping the epidural away from me twice, and the Pitocin. Both times I was supposed to be induced (gestational diabetes) and both times I went in labor on my own and delivered naturally exactly when I was supposed to be induced. Thank You, God! You’ve been a really good friend to me.

  29. Tayyaba says

    natural birth is too easy. Pains are not as bad, as it is thought. Secondly period of severe pains is too short. Your body becomes well adopted to to tolerate last pains, the mild pains which u r having since 10-12 hours, makes ur body habitual of tolerating pains, and u remain too easy in last few moments of pushing. How God be so cruel to women? How nature be so cruel to women? Now doubt birth is painful, but poin is that, your body is prepared for it. If you keep patience, you can deliver baby in just 1 or 2 pushes. So be confident. I have 2 babies, both times 10-12 hours of mild pains with intervals. And 15 minutes of bit high pains, and only 2,3 pushes of delivry. The main key to have good experience is just to kick out you fears, just stay calmn and confident. Birth is a thing not beyond of this universe :)

  30. says

    Natural childbirth is good to consider but if the health of the mother is at risk, the experts should decide which method should be the best. We can’t deny that certain medicine has side effects, this is why it’s ideal to consult medical experts first before coming up with a medication.

  31. says

    An educated comment. First of all, the amount of drugs that gets absorbed from the epidural space is very small. Normally epidural is done with 0.2% ropivacaine and 4ug/ml of fentanyl. The former does not have any unfavorable effects on the fetus. The latter, an opioid, potentially can cause side effects and complications. However, given that epidural infusion is done at about 10 ml/hour, the amount of fentanyl given to the mother is 40 um/h. This amount is quickly metabolized and removed from the bloodstream. Compare this to 100 mg shot of meperidine that many midwives consider a better alternative to epidural – and you shouldget no surprise that epidural babies have significantly better Apgar scores than those born from mothers who received IM opioids.

    And yes, the factors that determoine the outcome of labor are numerous, and epidural is only one of them. The last sentence summarizes it best: “Therefore choose what you think is best for you and you little one.” Do that after learning everything you can about all things labor.

  32. Janey says

    I have had 2 healthy labour and deliveries WITH walking epidurals and I am pregnant with #3 and am planning on an epidural. Kudos to those that do it without anything. I have enjoyed my painless, restful labours (I actually got to sleep a little bit) I was just wondering how does the drug get into your blood stream when it is directly put into the spinal fluid (which is part of the blood brain barrier is it not). My kids did not come out drugged – 9/10 apgar with #1 and 10/10 apgar with #2. I had no issues after birth with headaches or excess pain. Minimal tearing in #1 (pushed for 30 minutes) and no tearing in #2 (pushed in 1 contraction/5 minutes and he was out). I realize these studies are done, however there are SO many factors other than epidurals and pain meds that have to be taken into consideration — family history, skeletal and muscular structure and strength, awareness of one’s own body, weight, how the mother carried, uterus position, baby position, the list could keep going. My kids are healthy and happy, so to those mothers now worried about epidurals, just be aware that YES there are risks, but there are also risks with natural birth depending on your individual health and circumstances. Therefore choose what you think is best for you and you little one.

  33. says

    CZS, I hope you get better and wish you to get rid of your headaches. I respect your opinion, however there is no data in the medical literature that supports your view that your chronic headache was caused by epidural. First childbirth is an intense and physiologically traumatic event, which by itself sufficient to cause headache in someone who is predisposed to them. Who is treating your headaches? Your GP or a pain specialist? Once again, I wish you full recovery.

    • CZS says

      I see a neurologist at the headache clinic at my local major hospital. I am thinking about getting my medical records from my deliveries and seeing if there is something else that happened in the first two that didn’t in the last one. It’s been nearly 7 years now….I’ve had a headache basically since then, with no break. Thanks for you well wishes. They are appreciated.

  34. says

    It is interesting that you connect your headaches with the day you got epidural, though on the same day you also got pitocin and you delivered the baby. And you still think epidural caused your headaches even though you had a tendency to have it easily since your teens.

    One way epidural can cause a headache is a dural tap. However it doesn’t seem to be the issue in your case. In general, it is quite common not to be able to find a cause of a headache. It would be a good idea to start a diary to record all possible things that may cause your headache: duration of sleep, detailed record of foods eaten, stress, travel, alcohol, medication etc. Maybe eating some sugar or processed food will ease the headaches? I get severe headaches from oversleeping, so I try to avoid doing it or take strong painkillers early.

    Epidural analgesia in labor is still considered somewhat exotic by many people, and that’s why it is blamed for lots of ills it does not cause. I find it unfortunate.

    • CZS says

      I think the fact that I have always been susceptible to headaches is the reason I ended up with chronic daily headaches after the epidural with my first baby. And yes, I definitely think that the epidural is the cause of the escalation. The epidural is the only thing in common from my first two births (besides the actual baby), as I did not get pitocin with the second and the fact that the headaches did not get worse after my third which was a natural birth as it did with the second, seems to point in that direction. I do have a general idea of what will make it much worse: not enough sleep, an abundance of caffeine, sugar, processed food, alcohol. So while eating better decreases the intensity, they are by no means gone. I do realize that there are a lot of women that can have epidurals with seemingly no problems, but I feel like my issues are from the epidural and maybe it was the pitocin combined with the epidural that screwed up my brain physiology. I have no clue. All I know is I am the one that has to deal with this day in and day out, which is what I find unfortunate and frustrating.

  35. CZS says

    I have had migraines and the tendency to have headaches easily since I was a teen. When I had my first child, I was talked into getting induced early, I tried to go natural, but after laboring all night with no progress I was exhausted and was “encouraged” to get pitocin and and epidural. I said yes. I now have chronic daily headaches. The headaches started the day I got the epidural. They subsided somewhat when I was pregnant with my second. But I ended up with an epidural again, and the headaches got really bad again. With my third, the headaches got a little better again and I was determined to do a natural delivery. I had a midwife and I did. The headaches thankfully did not get worse. However, I still have them. I feel like I have seen every Doc and talked to every anesthesia person I know, I basically get a shrug and a I have no clue answer. No one can tell my a) why I have headaches and b) how I can get rid of them. I take supplement recommended by my neurologist, changed my eating, literally eat no processed food, no soda, no sugar–and I still can’t get rid of them. I would give almost anything to go back and redo my first birth. I get so frustrated with the lack of answers.

  36. M. Pace says

    This infomation is useful.

    But it would be a lot more useful if it included at least *something* about the frequency of various physical effects mentioned — on either the mother or on the baby.

    For example, the various potential negative effects on the baby of the mother’s receiving an epidural are useful to know. But it would be *immensely* more useful if at least *some* information were provided about how often they occur. (With the full understanding that any generalization cannot take into account the differences in dosages, mothers, and babies.)

    In fact, it is not clear from what I read above whether *any* of the aftereffects on the baby of the mother’s epidural might typically be long-term effects, or whether all of them are short-term effects.

    It is also completely ignored that expectant mothers may be filled with anxiety by worrying about the possibly agonizing pain that labor and giving birth may cause them. This anxiety undoubtedly affects the baby, and its effects have to be weighed against the effects of an epidural. (If the mother knows she can have an epidural with only the faintest risk of long-term effects on the baby, she might be a great deal less anxious.)

    Is its valuable to get this side of the story, but it is *****much***** less valuable when the likelihood of the ill effects, and their duration, are completely omitted. As well as the positive side of epidurals being completely omitted as well.

  37. Cynthia says

    I was induce a week early. I went in on October 4 7:00 in the morning the doctor checked my cervix said she was still a little high but started the Iv meds anyway at 12:00 they broke my water at 1 they gave me my first epidural. Didn’t help at all they put 3 valves in it still no relief. So at 2 they redid it that time it work but I felt really druged and even my skin was a yellowish color then my little Madison was born at 6:10 pm. She barly cryied after birth. They cleaned her up and gave her to me she didn’t want to eat all she wanted to do was sleep. The next day they notice that her glucose was going down and she had poor oxygen. They transfer her to St.V children hospital they notice at that time that she had Lactic Acic in her blood. Mean While I was also admitted for high blood pressure and my feet and legs were swollen worse then they ever had been, Also my face was really swollen my lips and could barly open my eyes. I was in the hospital for a day and a half before I was able to go see my baby. Time I got to see her they got her Lactic Acid level back down from a 16 to 2 and it was floating between 2 and 5. When she was 6 days old they decided to feed her started her out on breast milk 10 ml every 3 hours the next day her Lactic Acid jumped back up to 12 to 16 she had to be put back on the ventilator they stopped feeding her but they couldn’t get it to go back down. At 9 days old they transfer her to Riley Hosiptal. They was going to do more test but on the 15th at 12 midnight the last check on her levels her Lactic Acid was a 20 then she just gave out. They tested her for all of the matabolic disorders at St.V’s a month later all of her test came back and they could not find an underlined condition just that what ever they could feed her would of poisoned her. I don’t understand how an almost 9 pounds baby could have these kind of problems and the Matabolic Doctor said he never seen a case like hers. I really think it was the Epidural that causes all of these problems I think they over medicated me. Iv’e been trying to find similar story’s on the Internet but haven’t yet. I never knew that the epidural crossed over to the baby I feel so guilty. The only thing I was ever told it could cause damaged to my back, never told it could build up in my baby. I am so mad I have 3 other children all healthy and yes I was induce with all 3 and had an epidural with them but never so much. And nobody in my family or my husband has any type of Matabolic disorder in our family. I think Major Hosipal messed up and poisoned my daughter. So please anybody if you have a similar story or knows somebody who has a similar story please contact me at [email protected] Because I would really like to know if an epidural can poison a baby if to much is givin to the mother. I don’t care if its 2 yrs later I need some answers,

  38. says

    Epidural does not increase the risk of caesarean section, this has been settled in 1998 (and confirmed many times since then). Epidural does not interfere with breastfeeding: studies show some statistically insignificant effect in the first 24 hours only. It is also important to understand the difference between the associations and cause-and-effect relationship. Epidural is associated with tears, that is correct. But it does not cause them. The reality is that women with prolonged or obstructed labour are more likely to get an epidural. Incidentally, these women are at higher risk of tears. Epidural also has beneficial effects on the baby, compared with both opioid analgesia and no analgesia. It may also prevent long-term pain after vaginal birth.

    • laura Penny says

      If you really research this matter further, you can see that the studies “proving” that epidurals do not cause higher C-section rates, are severely flawed (especially within the united states). C-sections rates skyrocketed at the same time epidurals were introduced to mothers for labor & delivery and has been rising ever since. Epidurals create larger profit margins for the medical industry, so its a no brainer that there is a large amount of disinformation floating around, claiming that its safe and doesn’t cause these additional risks/side effects.

      • liz says

        Any two things that increase over time will be correlated. It does not mean they cause one another. During that time period during which both epidurals increased, so did average income, college enrollment rates, cable TV subscriptions and expenditures on dog food. By your logic, money, education, television and pets all increase c-sections too.

  39. Connie says

    I wish more people would trust their own bodies and realize that the female body is MADE to give birth. Without artificial interventions (i.e. Pitocin, epidurals, etc.), there are wonderful positive feedback loops that help push the woman closer and closer to delivery. There are just so many things that most women do not understand how labor works.

  40. Joan S. says

    Mr Kressler,

    I’ve worked with mothers and babies for 15 years….Your data is seriously out of date. There is no risk for increased cesarean section in women who receive epidurals- Zhang, 2001. Not only that, in randomized prospective trials (Wang, 2009) epidurals can be given in the latent phase without increased risk of c-section. Yours and other websites only serve to frighten women and when they “give in” to pain relief, they feel they let themselves down. This is just a start…you are twisted in many of your other statements, and by using big words like PGF2- alpha you supposedly lend credence to your misguided article. And, amazingly, you forget to mention one known negative of the epidural which is increased body temperature and unnecessary neonatal workups for sepsis. I can only imagine your agenda but please don’t enlighten me further on those details. Lastly, Don’t forget to remind women that choose natural childbirth at home- when all goes well, wonderful, when it doesn’t, the experience and outcome may ruin your lives.

    • says

      Just let the process proceed as natural as possible. Epidurals definitely influence a babies CNS. Only within the last hundred years or so have women had babies in hospitals, with forceps, and epidurals. Women have given birth naturally for centuries. There is no need to abuse the medical advantages we have today, but rather utilize them in emergency situations.

    • says

      I had each of my 9 children using only breathing techiniques, and each time couldn’t wait to repeat the amazing experience of birth.
      And yet, my 38 year old relative chose a home-birth for her only child, and unfortunately lost the baby because the hospital equipment was lacking. Normal low-risk pregnancy, and yet the child died needlessly after birth and they will never have another child.

    • Sara says

      Thank you! In full agreement, there is a time to give an epideral that is appropriate that will not increase those risks

  41. Corey27 says

    Wow thanks for all the great resources!!! I also just can’t believe the possible connection pitocin has with autism and the way the hospitals are gonna just keep pumping into mothers!! People just don’t want to ask questions and demand answers anymore…

    • b2manatees says

      Keep up trying to educate your woman. She’s very lucky to have such a supportive and well educated guy! Hopefully you’ll get into her head so she can avoid interventions/interferences and have that oxytocin high that every woman and baby deserve and quite frankly need after birth. I’m happy the link has been made between pitocin and autism. I just hope people start to listen. Regardless, the empowerment a new mother can feel when she gives birth (SHE gives birth) instead of the medical establishment forcing birth to occur is amazing. Best of luck. Natural birth is amazing and such a boost for moms, especially first time moms. To know that your body is NOT broken and that YOU are the one to bring forth a life is really enlightening and strengthening. Women have been robbed by a lot over the generations. It’s nice to see men such as yourself and Chris Kresser helping support women in this rite of passage.

    • Sara says

      This article in no way, discusses the connection to autism, you must just be reading between the lines and reading what you want it to say.

  42. Corey27 says

    I am a guy that is dedicated to his wife and future child. I have been reading, watching TLC, and researching everything. I am outnumbered by my wife and her mother and they won’t listen to my concerns with the risks of pytocin and epiderals. I feel like I have more I interest than my wife about pregnancy and all I get is I wish you were the one that was pregnant. What’s a guy to do?

    • b2manatees says

      See if you can get her to read anything by Dr. Odent or Marsden Wagner about how you shouldn’t interfere with pregnancy. Ina May Gaskin’s “Birth Matters” might change her outlook. Can you get her to watch The Business of Being Born – I think it does a great job of showing how traumatic pitocin is for the baby. Henci Goer has a book called “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” that lists the risks and benefits of all interventions. A word of “warning” is that many of these sources will lead you to understanding that a hospital birth is a fight and home birth tends to be more evidence based, but they also do talk about the risks of the interventions you are concerned about. Oh, and please stop watching TLC!!! A Baby Story and those other shows, unless they’ve gotten better, put the moms into risk and then “rescue” them to look heroic – pretty dangerous. Can you guys get a doula? That might also help out. Big hugs to you. It must be hard when you are more concerned than she is. It does sound like though that she just needs the resources to find the inner strength to realize that she doesn’t NEED an epidural to cope with the pain – there is dangerous pain that is causing damage and then normal labor discomfort (pain) that has a purpose. A lot of labor is a mind game – face your fear and decide to give in and relax and go within yourself then it’s very easy to cope with. The pain of labor is made worse by fear, which is sounds like she needs, and made even worse with pitocin b/c pitocin stops your body from releasing natural pain fighters. Oooh, while I don’t know much about it, maybe look into hypnobirthing with her – a lot of women using that technique to help them out and report great success. My first OB even suggested it to me when I told him I didn’t want an epidural. Anything that can help her relax and build her confidence. Women in our culture LOVE a dramatic birth story for some reason. The “best” births are often really quite boring :) go into labor, relax through the contractions/rushes, give into the process, body pushes out baby on its own, all is good – a nice “boring” birth to you and your new family!!!!!!

      • Jordan says

        What’s a guy to do? Leave her decision ALONE. If it was you having the baby, then you could choose what happens…but you really need to drop it. It’s her decision. You’ll never understand the pain and feelings that come from having a child. You have absolutely no room to tell her whats best. She’s the one pushing it out, and if she wasn’t to be induced and have an epidural SO BE IT. I’d leave my man if he couldn’t come to terms with MY decisions. You’re only putting more stress on her and the baby by pushing your opinions on her.

        Since this comment was so long ago, I pray she had her baby HER way…theres no reason to intervene.

        • Daniel says

          Jordan I respectfully disagree with you. Women aren’t A-sexual and cannot create a baby alone, and it’s just as much his right to voice his opinion in the matter. In the end if she choses not to listen there isn’t much any man can do but you cannot fault him for trying to inform his wife about the risk/rewards of natural birth. Instead of being selfish we should try to consider what’s best for the innocent infant who has NO say in how they enter the world. Inform yourself, make your decision and be at peace with it. My wife and I had a home birth and it was a wonderful experience that I’m eternally grateful for.

        • Amanda says

          Jordan,
          I also respectfully disagree with you…it is his child too and he does have a say in what goes into his/her body and how he or she is born since it can affect the child and BOTH parents forever. It baffles me when people don’t educate themselves on something so important! I had a natural birth with my first child and it wasn’t “too difficult” as you mentioned in a previous post, it was something AMAZING I was fortunate enough to experience with my husband and baby. Was it painful?? Yes! But just like all rewards in life you have to work and go through a little discomfort and this is the ultimate reward, a human being that you created WITH your partner! AND with a little research you will find that births with interventions (yes, an epidural is an intervention) actually INCREASES your chance of a c-section, not the other way around. Maybe it would be a good idea to leave our bodies alone and allow them to do what they were created for rather than creating the “emergency csection” by introducing a cascade of interventions?

        • Aimee says

          I also disagree with you Jordan. He does have a right to his opinion and to voice his fears about the possible dangers to his future child. Parenthood is a partnership, even when the child is in utero. Yes, the mother has to do the job of carrying the baby and delivering it, but that’s because she doesn’t have a choice. And I feel like women who doubt their ability to go through a natural childbirth are selling themselves WAY short. It is probably the closest thing to a miracle anyone will ever experience, and the woman’s body was ENGINEERED to get through is naturally. Why mess with that? Especially with chemical’s that aren’t meant to be in the body in the first place? I find it a little ironic that woman don’t drink or do recreational drugs while pregnant for fear of what could happen to the baby, but can’t wait to get drugged up when it comes to labor.

        • Brittany says

          Jordan, I think your comments are extrely rude. Chris I commend you for putting fourth all the effort in researching and taking the time to weigh out all your options. It’s ultimately YOUR baby as well, so I believe you have every right to have an opinion and a say in what goes on in the delivery room. You should be attacked for caring about the well being of your child and wife. She needs to take into consideration that she didn’t make that child on her own and it’s just as much your decision as it is hers. She’s lucky to have a guy who wants to be a part of the whole birthing process and who cares about what happens during delivery, considering a lot of guys these days never even step up to take care if their child let alone care about what happens in delivery. You seem like a great husband and I think it’s great that you want to be so involved (:

  43. Olivia says

    Had an epi and spinal another time…both gave me a very sore back. Spinal tap area ached way more than the darn uterine/abdominal wound.
    My last hospital experience was miserable and I resolved then that number 3 would be at home…God willing and the creek don’t rise.

  44. Sheri says

    Thank you for this info. It should be included in all pregnancy test kits JUST so all women will be exposed to it! I was bullied into getting an epidural with my first child after being mocked for not wanting a medicated birth (I had carefully chosen my OB who fully supported me, but, of course, had no control over the L&D nurse I received). I was then flat out lied to by the nurses and doctors who told me point blank that NONE of the drug crossed into the baby. Poor baby had some major issues the first few days including not breastfeeding well for quite some time – later a lactation consultant told me it was most likely the epidural and then labor augmentation drugs as she sees it all the time with medicated births.

    My story, sadly, is not unique. It does point to a reason why women are leaving hospitals to deliver at home, where they are supported in their plans for unmedicated births and surrounded by individuals they know and trust. After welcoming my second child into the world in the safety of my home, I would never go into another pregnancy planning a hospital birth.

    • Natalia says

      I to feel like I’m bullied into having an epidural, my aunt told me that I must take the medicine I don’t know why? She never gave birth!!! And whatever my hospital could squeeze out of my insurance they’d do it. My goal is to wait until its the second or final stage of labour and then go to the hospital. I DON’T WANT TO BE INDUSED, I DON’T WANT CC, AND DEFINATELY I DONT WANT EPIDURAL !!!!!

      • Jordan says

        Sad to say, but most women (especially with their firsts) plan on going all natural but then realize it’s too difficult…HOWEVER by the time they realize it, it’s too late so they have to have a c-section. There no way I would/could EVER go natural. I would never want a cc.

  45. Mary says

    Typical…..a man telling a woman how to give birth.

    And you can eat the placenta too.

    I have 5 healthy children. Three with pain meds, two without. I’ll take the pain meds, thanks.

    • Susan says

      Mary,

      I don’t recall anyone telling others “how to give birth.” This research and dissemination, whether conducted by a male or female is common knowledge. Take a chill pill.

      • Danielle says

        Susan,
        I dont thnk Mary is out of line or “not chill” at all. She actually had the experience of both. She had healthy babies with both procedures, no problems that might have had her inclined to blame the epidural. Your first child I heard takes the longest anyhow…..so why would someone who took the epidural not be informed that it might have NOT been the epidural. When you dont have an open mind …to me…you are an extremist. I also agree that Men should really not have any say in the child birth process. Thanks Mary for having an open mind set and giving our best oponion, after having tried both sides.

        I am 36 weeks preganant…heard stories of all kinds…and going into the birthing experience with the intent of natural but not being affraid of other options either.

        • Emily says

          Danielle, the article isn’t about closing your mind off to the possibility of an epidural. It’s not telling women not to get them. It is written by a researcher (yes, a male researcher) who is listing potential side effects in order to inform.

          Pregnant women are frequently coddled, treated like they cannot read research, and prescribed interventions without being fully informed or even before they give permission. It’s insulting. I’d rather hear as much information as I can before making a choice.

          A friend of mine was given an amnio because she was over 35. The (small, but real) risks of miscarriage were never discussed with her. It was just–‘get this test, because you’re in the high-risk age bracket.’ She wouldn’t have wanted the test if she’d known it carried a risk to the fetus. She trusted her doctor to inform her.

          Women shouldn’t feel shamed into any kind of birth. It’s just that, a fully informed woman might make different choices. Most women will find the epidural risks acceptable. There really are a lot of healthy babies/mothers after an epidural. A few might not, and it’s best that they be informed.

        • Concerned Dad-to-be says

          Sadly, both Mary and Danielle are out of line and out of touch here. Men play a hugely important role in the childbirth process. We are the baby’s mother’s most trusted advisor, counselor, partner and advocate in childbirth. We calm their fears, attend all the classes, research all the products and choices, and ultimately are the ones right by their side as they bring OUR (hers and ours) child into this world. My wife and I are true partners in this journey. If you really feel men have no role…maybe you need to have better men in your life. Good luck and good vibes to all the mamas-to-be.

          • Mallory says

            I agree with concerned-dad-to-be.
            You must have tuned out during the paragraph in the article where it is stated that the researcher is not against medical intervention when it is actually NEEDED. You seem to only focus on certain words, making this article into something it is not. You attack the researcher for his gender. We are all responsible for bettering medical practices, men and women together. Medicine isn’t perfect and it is our job to be well informed of the risks before signing consent forms. The researcher is helping by putting the information out there. Please don’t twist what he is doing. Research leads to improved practices. People used to think x-rays weren’t harmful. Now we know better thanks to research.

  46. Kim says

    When I failed to progress with my son in 2010, I was given pitocin to get my labor going. Because the contractions started getting so intense, I had an epidural. Within 30 minutes of receiving the epidural, my blood pressure dropped to where the monitors couldn’t read it anymore. I passed out, threw up, was given oxygen, and had to have 3 rounds of medication to counteract the epidural’s side effects. My SpO2 levels were compromised, as were my son’s, and his fetal heart rate dropped during all of this. I was rushed into the OR and had a c-section. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t have allowed them to start pitocin, and I definitely wouldn’t have received an epidural.

  47. Mia says

    So glad I came across your article. I gave birth at 22 years old, naturally. Almost unheard of now in days…My friends thought I was crazy for “planning” a natural birth. I went in well prepared, I read, watched videos, ate well, stayed active, and got myself mentally ready for what I was going to experience. Most importantly, I knew that my body was designed to give birth. I decided to have a midwife who’s beliefs on child birth were much like my own because of that I knew that my nurses wouldn’t try forcing an epidural down my throat or should I say spine. I just wanted to give my baby the best chances in life even if that meant feeling some labor pains. I must say it was the most rewarding and selfless thing I could do for her. 24 hours later both my daughter and I were able to go home. Our bond is like no other…I highly recommend natural births!!!

  48. Nicoleta says

    very important to me that i read ur article which i found it interesting and convinced me to give birth after 20 weeks without epidural :)

  49. Brittany says

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I have been in a constant battle defending my position, and ultimately had to find a new birth coach, because I am not wanting an epidural unless medically necessary.

  50. says

    Believe it or not, natural childbirth with assistance is illegal in Alabama and other states as well. I didnt have natural birth but if I ever have another child I will definitely try it.

  51. Erika says

    Thank you for the wonderful information. Your reasons for writing, along with an unmedicated birth center birth, are why I am studying to become a birth instructor. Women need to know.

  52. says

    Thank you for this series. At last a website to which I can point all my pregnant friends. It is a shame that women are usually offered – and usually gratefully accept – a suite of interventions, not being informed about associated risks. Having read a lot on the subject, I was always amazed by how little women know and how blindly they can trust the system.

  53. Mike Harris says

    Chris,
    Interesting article. I looked at the references and they don’t support your claims. Firstis correlation is not the same as cause. The studies say that women who have epidurals alos have longer labors and pelvic floor problems. They don’t say one causes the other. It can certainly be that in longer labors, more women request epidurals.
    You say there is a higher c-section rate, lower vaginal delivery rate and higher perineal tear rate. The studies you cite say in the abstract, the c-section rate is no different and don’t say anything about perineal tears. Again instrumentation complication rates are not mentioned in the abstract. Maybe the full study mentions these?
    Just trying to figure out where you got your conclusions.
    Thanks

    • Chris Kresser says

      What you suggest is possible, but unlikely. The increased risk of pelvic floor problems is much more likely to be associated with other interventions that typically occur alongside of epidurals, such as induction with Pitocin, instrumental delivery and episiotomy, longer second stage (pushing) of labor and “coached” pushing.
      See:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15902173
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6147604
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15902179

      This study shows a tripled risk of perineal tear, and this one shows slightly less than double the risk.

      The abstract of the study I mentioned does indeed mention an increased rate of instrumental delivery with epidurals:

      Despite this variation, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that epidural is associated with a lower rate of spontaneous vaginal delivery, a higher rate of instrumental vaginal delivery and longer labors, particularly in nulliparous women.

      The impact of epidurals on cesareans is somewhat controversial, with studies showing mixed results. But after reviewing the research, I believe it’s fairly clear that epidurals combined with low-dose oxytocin regimes (most commonly used in North America) are likely to increase cesarean risk by 50%, whereas epidurals with high-dose oxytocin (less common in North America) may actually decrease the risk. This study suggests first-time mothers accepting an epidural who also use low-dose Pitocin may be up to 2.5 times more likely to have a cesarean.

      • Mike Harris says

        This has actually been argued extensively in the medical literature for years. The biggest and best review is from the Cochrane Reviews http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab000331.html , which showed no difference in c-section rates. The 2 studies you cite show no difference. You can’t have the same c-section rate and also a lower vaginal delivery rate in comparing with and withoutr epidural. The rough consensus in medicine is that that the longer, harder laboring moms tend to use epidurals more than the quicker deliveries. the harder labors have more c-sections and more epidurals, but the epidurals don’t cause more c-sections.
        Anyway, it certainly is better to have a faster. easier labor and not need an epidural.
        Again, with your other claims, just because 2 things are correlated, does not mean one causes the other. All of these studies are correlation only, one should use that to investigate more, not assume causality.

        • Karhy iorillo says

          People in general, including ACOG, are not able to adequately discuss reasearch findings in a scholarly manner. Instead they often make leaps of causality instead of correlation. This only adds to the inflammatory and misguided assumptions. Is it that women who request epidural have inherently abnormal, difficult, or medically managed birth that then cuases complications? Rather than blaming epidurals which the research does not prove, we woukd be better discsussing the complexities involved in providing women wirh what they need to safely birth without intervention.

          • John John says

            Though it’s true that correlation is not causation, Chris’ theory seems the more likely one if one wants to draw a tentative conclusion from available evidence (in other words, if someone wanted to, you know, make a decision…). Otherwise we should throw out all of this evidence in decision making until something is absolutely proved to be causational. (Not something most would be likely to do.) Think about the probability of what you just put forward as an alternative theory. If the explanation of the correlation between epidural use and long labors is that women who would already have labored long or abnormally are requesting epidurals (in other words, the epidurals aren’t “causing” the long labors; women with difficult labors are requesting epidurals) then the frequency of epidurals in the U.S. is a bit astounding — since we’d also have to take that epidural rate, according to your theory, as the rate of women with long, difficult, abnormal labors. If that were so, it should make us wonder about the length and difficulty of women’s labors before epidurals were used so frequently or even available at all). In the Netherlands, according to our poster above, this would mean 90% of women have difficult labors. If that’s so, we should really be worried about the future of the human race. I’m not saying that epidurals are to blame for birth gone wrong, but the more likely explanation for the correlation between them and other interventions is that they are an influence on, not a sign of, a difficult labor. Otherwise, there are a lot of women in industrialized countries with abnormally difficult labors, as signaled by their use of epidurals.

    • Shawn says

      Obviously, this article is written by a man who will never undergo the major pains of labor. I have read all of the information, and support any woman who wants an epidural in order to endure labor pains.

      • Rachel says

        I had an epidural with my first child and I had a natural birth with my 2nd. Although the epidural blocked out pain. I had to be induced further because my labor slowed down. The aftermath was horrible. I tore in the worst possible way because You feel how hard your pushing. I was sick and I wanted nothing to do with my baby or anyone because I was so groggy from the meds and I was in severe pain from the tear. With my 2nd child, I gave birth very fast. 3 pushes and she was out and I felt like I could have run a 5K right after I had her. I connected with her alot better than my first daughter because I felt so good. I didn’t tear and I had tons of energy. Plus, the labor pains are actually not even that bad. My period cramps are worse than labor. So, I support natural birth. Having an epidural for me was horrible and I’ll never have another one if I get pregnant again.

  54. Maggie says

    I wish I had been better informed about the birth process, had a birth plan, and a doula. I was completely unprepared for the sleep deprivation I experienced with #1. And, for #2, I was completely unprepared for a late in the game discovery of a breech baby with a MD who would not do a vaginal delivery.

    Epidural with number one. Epidural plus c-section for number two.

    IDK, I think I was naive and thought I could have natural births with almost no preparation beforehand! We went to the obligatory hospital class and thought we were set!

    It wasn’t until I hooked up with La Leche League that I learned about different births, doulas, education, choices, etc.

    Astonishing to think about in hindsight!

    • says

      The hospital class teaches you how to be a good patient! That’s why we need to spread the word! Putting a link to your site on my blog tomorrow, Chris!

  55. Omar Berges says

    This is very interesting. What can you say about about eating the placenta as all mammals instinctively do?

    • Chris Kresser says

      I’m in favor of it. Placenta has been used as a restorative and healing medicinal during the post-partum period in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In the modern Western world, a practice that is becoming more common is to have the placenta powdered and encapsulated so mothers can take it in capsule form for a period of time after the birth.

      • Becky Leppard says

        My niece delivered her own baby at home with her husband and nobody else as planned. They kept the pacenta intact connected to the cord and to the baby until it dropped off on its own accord a week later. I had never heard of this practice, but apparently it is so the baby gets all the nutrients from the placenta?

        • Karen Herbert says

          Yes, it’s an interesting practice called lotus birth, if you’re interested in googling it. It’s very safe for babies-and good to atleast delay the clamping of the cord until it has stopped pulsating if one is going to choose to cut the cord. One doctor I know of who writes about lotus birth is fantastic and her name is Sarah J Buckley- same one quoted in part of the above article. I’m still reading through her book, I borrowed from a friend, called “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering”.
          And btw, Pearl’s cord fell of just 2 days after birth, and Samuel’s came off on day 4, so the length of time is pretty short but varies from baby to baby. Nice surprise to see you here, A. Becky!

      • says

        My wife did this, and it blunted her post partum depression very well! She is now becoming a certified placenta encapsulator and she can’t wait to oper her own business.

  56. says

    I’m sorry to hear there’s such a backlash about your pregnancy/baby posts & program. But, when you’re pissing people off, you know you’re in the right place. We’ve got a massive issue with the cultural acceptance of all things medical as simply something that is “standard operating procedure”, when for centuries, there was no such THING as any of the Western medical approaches. Sure, in life-critical moments, I’ll get myself to a hospital, but in managing what is essentially just “part of nature”, why invite in medical intervention if its not necessary? Keep working hard Chris. I hope many will continue to see how right you are about this stuff!! (and all the other stuff you’ve written…which is all awesome!) :-)

  57. Stephanie Pires says

    You keep writing. I completely agree that the mother’s of the babies I see, severely handicapped babies, are even ill-informed about normal birth processes. They have no faith in the natural birth process or their ability to deal with the pain.

    With the estimates of babies with autism at about 1 in 60 right now, I would say your articles are timely and well researched. Keep on writing.

    • Becky Leppard says

      I agree Stephanie,
      You hit the nail on the head, that most women fear natural birth and feel that no one in their right mind would want to face labor without pain medication. Part of it, is lack of education on natural methods to cope with the pain.

      • Moddy says

        This is (terrifyingly) true. When my mother was in the hospital with a broken back, that because of several complications they could not operate on, the ‘pain’ nurse that administers the morphine asked her to describe the pain hourly on a scale from one to ten – with ten being ‘childbirth’. This woman, and the medical school that trained her, genuinely belived that childbirth was the worst possible pain a human being could feel. She was nothing short of shocked when my mother (rather curtly) informed her that childbirth was far from the worst pain ever.

        • Diane says

          So true. When I had my first attack of gout, they said the same thing about the pain scale, and I said the same thing (quite curtly) that labor for TWINS was a walk in the park on their pain scale around a 2, and the gout pain was around a 20. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy…. although I would wish it on terrorists / pedifiles / rapists, etc. :)

    • jackie hays says

      my granddaughter was given an epidural at 9 CM and baby was born 15 mins later….Is this wrong,will it hurt the baby?

  58. says

    Great post! Really sums up the risks associated with epidurals. I really wish parents were educated in advance about the choices they have available to them during pregnancy and birth so they can make informed decisions about their care. I love providing that education! I teach a program called Hypnobabies and we teach women how to use ‘eyes open childbirth hypnosis’ and medical grade hypno-anesthesia which is really powerful! I’m really looking forward to using it for my 1st birth!

  59. says

    Thanks for writing about such an important issue. Regarding epidurals, when I went to give birth to my first child in 1998, the hospital personnel were astonished an thrilled when I said I definitely don’t want an epidural. 71 % in US seems to be far beyond 90 % where I live (in Finland). Most who don’t have an epidural just lack the time to have it, I was told.

    I would never have an epidural, because I’m not afraid of nature’s own pain. I don’t understand how majority of women are more afraid of nature’s own pain than a medical intervention with risks (and a huuuge syringe! :). I’ve given birth three times, all without anestesthetics, and I loved the experiences. For me, the beta endorfins definitely did their job.

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