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What are your thoughts on an epidural during labor, and is it harmful to the baby??

By April 25, 2008 - 5:16pm
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I am from India, I was going to deliver first baby and had started pain my doctor asked for epidural. I consented, A doctor who was expert of painless deliveries came and put the epidural and left a catheter in epidural space. After this I did not feel any pain,
I delivered child after 9 hours and sensorcaine was given through this catheter after every three hours,
I had no headache, no backache, and I was taken to the labour room walking on my own legs, I expelled child with my own and no instrumentation applied, there was no bad effect to my baby
my experience is if it is given by an expert hands nothing better than epidural for comfortable delivery of child.

April 8, 2010 - 1:53pm
Expert HERWriter

It's hard for me to tell you that an epidural is the way to go. I didn't start my own labor and had to be induced. I was 3 weeks overdue. LADIES, that I would NEVER recommend for anyone. Too many risk factors.

By the time I got into hard labor, which was instantly. When you are induced, you go from no contractions to major contractions. It was too late for the epidural to take effect. They did give it to me however, it made me physically sick to my stomach and that wasn't something I needed at the time. If you get my drift.

My daughter, Amanda, arrived safe and sound. All 9lbs 6oz of her. She looked like a one month old baby who'd been left in the maternity ward. She was so much bigger then all the other babies.

Coming to the site and asking the question is a great start to doing your homework. Once you've done your homework, you can choose what you think is best for you. Some women will want something to relieve the pain. Others will schedule a "C" section. Now there's a great topic for discussion.

My feeling is...if you can avoid the pain and it won't harm the baby. Then go for it!!

If you find some information that you thought was helpful. Will you please come back and give us the link or links or even websites that you thought were good?

Just go to the "SHARE" section. It will only take a minute and will be so helpful to so many other women.
That is how we help one another. Women helping women. One at a time.

Thanks so much,


April 27, 2008 - 8:47am
(reply to Michelle King Robson)

i love reading about everyone's experiences with birth. i hate when women feel guilty about what happens to them. often what happens at birth is a matter of fate - there certainly are choices, but no one chooses to have a breech baby, or an OP baby, or a really long labor, etc.

i would love to see a lot more truth out there about birth. Yes, it hurts, yep, it really does. does just plain old labor (no pit!!!!) hurt so bad that the majority of women NEED (like they will die without them) epidurals? no, for pete's sake, absolutely not. i do not want to take anyone's epidural away, but many women are conned into believing that labor is soooooooo bad, they absolutely must have one. they get one before it even gets bad. if you want to have a "normal" labor, with no drugs, you have at least a 90% chance that you can do it. and i don't mean scream and bite the bullet, but truly not need any drugs. you'll need really good support, partner, doula, midwife or dr and nurses, and you'll need to believe in yourself and have educated yourself about how to cope.

but the question was really if an epidural safe for baby? i will simply say what i have heard countless ob nurses say (not in front of any moms on epidurals i will add), they can tell the difference, not as alert, dull, just not the same as an all-natural baby. I'm not bashing anyone who had to get an epidural - i do not doubt that you did what you thought was best - and that's all you can do, but, there is ample research out there which shows that narcotics do affect babies. i don't think we really understand the long- or short-term ramifications of these drugs on so many of our babies. and i will add this too, moms who get epidurals aren't as "high" after their births as all-natural. the euphoria is much more subdued. and i don't think we understand what this could mean either.

July 15, 2008 - 10:06pm
HERWriter Guide

After about twenty three hours of terrible pain (the screaming out loud kind) my midwife gently suggested since my labor was going nowhere, I might want to consider pain relief. I thought "maybe she has a point" and accepted an epidural. The needle fell out and the intense pain began again. After the second attempt, it took.

I agree with Alison completely on how pain relief during labor seems to be some kind of moral issue and is also an odd kind of competition. As if being in terrible pain yet delivering your baby without medication makes a woman more of a woman (and more of a mother) while the woman who takes pain relief is somehow weaker and less of a warrior. Give me a break.

There is a scene in the new Tina Fey movie Baby Mama where they are all at a Lamaze class. The instructor asks who will be going natural and they all raise their hands except for one (the Baby Mama!). The instuctor then asks who will be taking pain medication and succumbing to 'western' techniques for their own 'selfish' needs. Naturally, the Baby Mama raises her hand! Had I been in that class, I may have raised my hand too!

It's a funny scene but with a huge ring of truth. Pain medication has nothing to do with how much a woman loves her baby or how strong she is. Some want it (need it) some don't. End of story.

If men had the babies, they'd have pain medication and chat about it over a beer later. But women have to constantly compete, compare, contrast and make it into an issue when it shouldn't be one.

As far as harming the baby - there is risk involved in all procedures. We forget that childbirth is natural yet quite complicated because things can go terribly wrong. While very rare, the epidural can cause complications.

Whichever we pick, it's the right decision for us. And for anyone else, they need to place our personal decisions into their None of My Business file :)

April 27, 2008 - 6:22am

Everyone has a different opinion on pain management, whether it be to help ease/stop pain of a minor headache, migraine, recovering from surgery, labor and delivery or an insect bite! For some reason, the management of pain during labor and delivery has become a moral issue, one that women should feel ashamed/guilty of, instead of one of many decisions made by the woman and her health care provider(s) during this new, terrifying and exciting time!

According to the Mayo Clinic, the research on effects of epidurals and newborn health is "ambiguous", because there are so many different factors that differ from woman and baby...to woman and baby...including mom's and baby's prior health, length of labor, length of delivery, dosage of medication, type of epidural, etc.

There are many different types of medication that are put into the epidurals, including anesthesias and narcotics, that it's probably best to talk with your health care provider(s) about the actual substances they are putting into the epidural.

Everything I've read & researched has come to the same conclusions: epidurals themselves do not harm the baby (long-term), but there are side effects (short-term) including slowed heart rate, breathing rate, lethargy and trouble latching. These "side effects" resolve themselves.

There are pros and cons to every situation, whether the soon-to-be mom chooses to use medication or not to ease/stop pain.

Personally, I was prepared to take pain management drugs during my labor & delivery, but was not able to. I wanted to go as long as possible without any drugs, but once you are in that situation, your prehistoric self comes alive and you might be begging for anything to help with the pain, regardless of your prior plan! I delivered too quick to receive any drugs, but was yelling at my hubby to poke me as hard as he could in my lower back with his thumb...I don't remember this, but I guess it provided some counter-pressure (counter-pain?!). (okay...that might just be me?!).

My advice: research the drugs that your doctor would use in the epidural (MedlinePlus is best for this: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html), talk to other women (like you are!), and choose a few pain management strategies that you're open to. You may not even want/need them, but at least they're in your repertoire of possibilities! Plus, if you are unable to deliver vaginally, it's best to know the alternatives, because you WILL need drugs if you have a C-section or need to be induced, so it's best to know the options and feel good about your choices. All drugs have positive and negative side effects, and the degree of these depends on prior health history, dosage, length of time, etc.

Anyways, what are your pros/cons to epidurals or other pain medication during your labor and delivery?

April 26, 2008 - 2:26pm
EmpowHER Guest

My first labor took 24 hours -- almost to the minute -- and I wanted to tough it out. At hour 16, I finally asked for an epidural and it didn't take. I was miserable. I believed that the epidural would interfere with pushing and was afraid of the drugs.
Second pregnancy, my contractions were every two minutes but i was less than 3 centimeters dilated. I think I would have put the epidural in myself. It was a MUCH better labor and I really felt present the second time around. They took the epidural out about 20 minutes before I needed to push. I only had to push twice for the my second daughter to arrive and honestly, having been able to relax during labor was such a blessing because i have very clear memories of the birth of my second. The birth of my first is really a fog of pain and exhaustion.

April 25, 2008 - 6:53pm
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