One day the subject of using epidurals came up when I was talking to a friend of mine. The difference in our opinions set off an argument. As a woman who had delivered two kids using epidurals, I was completely for it. As a man, my friend believes that a woman is built for child bearing and should do it without the presence of drugs! In his opinion a baby should not suffer the presence of drugs “just because a woman does not want to suffer a bit of discomfort!” As you can imagine, that last comment was like waving a red flag in front of a bull! When I first found out that we will have to do this type of assignment in our class I knew exactly what I was going to write about. Is it ok to use an epidural to ease a woman’s pain and does it harm the baby?
I went online and started searching for my answers. At first I looked up sites that were pro-epidural. I found one site that talked about the rights and wrongs of epidurals. Of course the major benefit of an epidural is the painless delivery a mother can have while still be involved in the whole process. During the time of long and strenuous labor it can help a mother to relax and rest and in some cases speed up the labor process that was held down by labor anxiety. It can actually be prescribed for mothers with pregnancy related hypertension like myself to bring their blood pressure down; one of the side-effects of epidurals like other anesthetics is lower blood pressure. But with all the sites I read there was no mention of how it was beneficial to a baby.
Next I looked up the anti-epidural views. There were a lot of stories of things going wrong with a mother because the epidural is injected into a woman’s spine. They talked about side-effects like shivering, fever, back pain, bruising of the back, and many more. But most of the stories were about mothers who did not want to have epidural because they “wanted to be in control of their bodies.” Some of these sites mentioned in passing that the epidural can slow the baby’s heart down and increase its body temperature, which may give doctors the wrong impression that the baby has an infection.
Finally I started looking at sites that talked about the effect an epidural had on the babies themselves. It seems that there is a common belief that the epidural drug will not get to the baby. It is not the case! Anything that the mother takes, medications, drugs, or alcohol, will get into baby’s blood stream. Although no major side-effects due to use of epidural were reported, research shows that some of the babies have been reported to have cried more, had trouble latching on to the breast, and if they did succeed in latching on, did not remain so for long.
Doing the research for this post made me read more about epidurals than I really wanted to. It was very interesting to see that the baby’s well being was one of the last things on the minds of most pro and con epidural writers. As for me, I have 2 children who were born with the use of epidurals and both are perfect health wise. I had complications with both of my pregnancies long before the labor pains began. I honestly don’t know whether it is better to give birth with all the pain and agony or have an epidural. The sites I looked at just made me believe that it is up to each woman to decide alone or with her partner. As for me, if I were to have another baby right now, I would still go for epidural and my husband would be 100% for that decision!