Epidurals are so commonly used during child birthing that they often seem like an integral part of the process. Many women expect to receive one as a pain medication resource and many physicians routinely give them to every single mother laboring mother. However, the risk involved in receiving an epidural requires thoughtful and personalized consideration.
What is an Epidural?
According to Baby Center, United States physicians use epidurals to manage labor pain more often than any other type of pain medication. An epidural is administered through the insertion of a catheter into the area surrounding the spinal cord and fluid. The procedure lessens the sensation of pain in the lower body by interrupting nerve signals between the sensory and motor nerves, but it still allows you some feeling. Though epidurals are commonly given after active labor begins, the recent trend is to administer it in the earlier stages of labor if requested by the mother.
The Potential Problems
While the epidural is interfering with the nerve signals to lessen pain, it is also interfering with hormones that the female body produces during labor and childbirth, according to natural health expert Chris Kessler.
The body releases beta-endorphins, which are natural opiates that increase pain tolerance and help the body return to its state of balance. This natural opiate secretes from the pituitary glands when the body experiences pain and acts as an activation switch for dopamine, which is produces pleasurable feelings. This helps the mother better tolerate the pain of labor and delivery. It also assists with the release of prolactin, which is essential for breastfeeding and also helps mature the lungs of the baby. An epidural reportedly inhibits the release of beta-endorphins into the body.
Oxytocin is a hormone that naturally releases from the body at a rate of every 3-5 minutes during early labor and even more frequently closer to delivery. It reportedly stimulates the mother’s uterine muscles to initiate the labor process. It also assists in the contraction of the uterus following birth to prevent hemorrhaging postpartum. Epidurals reportedly limit the production of oxytocin, making the mother work harder to complete delivery. According to Kresser, this is the reason that forceps and delivery aids are more common among women who receive epidurals, which increases the chances for birthing injuries to the newborn.
Epidurals are also thought to extend the labor process, which may prove detrimental to mothers with certain medical conditions. Additionally, babies are reportedly four times more likely to present in a posterior position at the time of delivery.
Your physician should discuss the potential complications associated with epidurals prior to the beginning of labor. Your physician should also consider your personal health and make an informed decision about the likelihood of complications to you, as well as the baby. When this duty is breached and a birth injury occurs, an experienced attorney can help you secure the compensation that you and your family deserve.
If you or your newborn suffered a birth injury, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation.