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Harmful Effects of Epidurals during Childbirth

Childbirth is one of the most rewarding experiences in life; however, it can also be one of the most painful. To counteract the pain, many doctors and hospitals offer epidurals. According to the American Pregnancy Association, epidurals are the most common type of pain relief used during labor. While epidurals are generally considered safe, they do come with some risks. When an epidural goes wrong, the results can be devastating.

What Are Epidurals?
An epidural is a type of local anesthesia that is administered for management of pain associated with childbirth. A catheter is typically inserted into the lower back to allow for easy management of the drug. When needed, the anesthesia is administered into the back. This type of epidural is also sometimes called a walking epidural because it allows the patient to move more freely. Various medications are utilized in epidurals. Pain relief may last from 4 to 8 hours. One of the main advantages of an epidural is that it allows the woman to be awake and participate fully during labor and birth.

Risks Associated with Epidurals
There are some risks associated with the use of epidurals. Some risks are inherent in the drugs used; however, there is risk involved when they are improperly administered or when mistakes are made. Some risks are posed to the mother while other risks are associated with babies.
Risks to the mother include:

· Dizziness, Seizures
· Spinal Membrane Injuries
· Infection
· Breathing Problems
· Nerve Damage
· Back Pain
· Lower Blood Pressure
· Increased Risk of Assisted Birth (Forceps, Vacuum)

While epidurals may pose problems for mothers, they may also be associated with birth injuries to infants.

Birth Injuries Caused by Epidurals
There are many potential medical problems that may be caused by the use of epidurals. Some injuries may be temporary, while others may pose lasting medical problems.

· Lack of Oxygen
· Brain Injuries
· Stroke
· Coma
· Low Apgar Score
· Poor Muscle Tone
· Problems with Breastfeeding

The use of epidurals may slow the birth process, requiring further medications to be given. When a baby suffers lack of oxygen during birth it may cause very serious medical problems which could include cerebral palsy and other cognitive disorders. If a medical error or negligence caused the problem it may be considered medical malpractice.

Medical Mistakes during Childbirth
Medical errors can occur during any type of procedure, including childbirth. The use of epidurals can increase the risk of problems and they must be properly administered and monitored. Some of the mistakes that may be made by a doctor or medical professional that are associated with epidurals are:

· Incorrect Medication Dosage
· Improper Injection of Needle
· Failing to Monitor Mother and Baby
· Administration of Epidural At Wrong Time
· Medication Interactions

An epidural should only be administered by an anesthesiologist or other medical professional with expertise and special training. The epidural is injected very close to the spinal cord, making it a difficult and risky procedure. Before giving an epidural, the doctor must advise the patient of the potential risks and side-effects and get permission.

Medical Mistakes and Birth Injuries
If your child was injured at birth due to an epidural, seek help from an experienced attorney. If the injuries are due to negligence you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other costs. Ongoing medical care for a severely injured child could be costly and emotionally devastating for the family. Contact the reputable attorneys at Levin & Perconti to learn more about childbirth injuries.

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