Epidural anesthesia in childbirth, what are the risks

There are many mothers who, at the time of delivery or even before, decide to ask the medical team Epidural anesthesia. This decision is made mainly because the epidural makes you feel less the pain of childbirth, although there are many the detractors of this practice who talk about the risks for both the baby and the woman. We talk a little more about her.

The National Library of Medicine of the United States defines epidural anesthesia as "a medicine to numb that is administered by means of an injection in the back". As they indicate, this procedure "numbs or causes a loss of sensation in the lower half of the body", which decreases the pain of contractions during labor, although this is not the only use: it is also applied to reduce pain during surgery in the lower extremities, although this is not the subject we will discuss.


The application of epidural anesthesia in childbirth

Epidural anesthesia is given by injection into an area in the lower back. Usually, The doctors ask the woman who is going to give birth to lie on her side or stay seated. "In either of the two ways, you will be asked to contract your stomach inward and arch your back out," they point from this center.

With regard to the dose administered, this library ensures that normally the dose is low so that everything is safer. In this way, they comment that the medicine It takes effect in between 10 and 20 minutes, which causes the woman to "feel better". Of course, this does not mean that it is insensitive: "you may feel some pressure in the rectum or back during contractions," they say.


Are the risks of epidural anesthesia safe?

One must take into account a maxim: if epidural anesthesia is offered in the health service, it is because It has been shown to be safe. Now, this does not mean that there is no risk, and the truth is that there are several studies that talk about side effects in different areas and can even affect the baby at birth.

Main associated risks to epidural anesthesia are the following:

--- Decrease in the woman's blood pressure that can cause the baby's heart rate to decrease.

--- Alterations in labor and delivery.

--- Headache, but this is rare.

--- Sometimes the woman feels dizzy or has trouble breathing.

Types of epidural anesthesia

---"Walking" epidural anesthesia: This type of epidural anesthesia will reduce your pain, but you will still be able to move your legs. Most women are not really able to walk, but they can move their legs.


---Combined epidural / spinal anesthesia: It combines both spinal and epidural anesthesia. It provides pain relief much faster. Combined anesthesia is used when women are in very active labor and want immediate relief.

When the epidural should not be put

--- When there are associated complications at pregnancy as high blood pressure

--- When it has gone through a disease that alters immunity in the previous month (measles or whooping cough). It should have been four to six weeks before it could be applied

---If they exist infectious processes in the skin that increase the risk of transferring germs to the body

---Tattoos in that part of the back, although it depends on the situation.

Pain in childbirth

The use of the epidural, in spite of the risks, can have another very beneficial consequence for the woman: according to the director of the Asher Center of the Northwestern University for the Study and Treatment of the Disorders, the control of the pain during and after the childbirth It can reduce the risk of postpartum depression.

According to this expert, there is evidence thatWomen who have pain control with the epidural during vaginal delivery have a much lower risk of depression postpartum than women who are not anesthetized. "Maximizing pain control in labor with the obstetric team and the anesthetist could help reduce the risk of postpartum depression," he concluded.

Angela R. Bonachera

Video: What are the risks and side effects of an epidural?


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