If you have other children, you already know that going through labor and delivery is not a walk in the park. No matter how long or short your labor is, the chances are high that you will feel some pain. Like many other laboring moms in Washington and elsewhere, you may choose some form of pain relief during the birth process.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, epidurals are the most common type of pain relief that women opt for during labor, with more than half of all women who give birth in American hospitals choosing this option. The reason for this is that epidurals can be quite effective – the pain of contractions and pushing may be eliminated or significantly reduced and allow you to have a more relaxing and less stressful birthing experience.
However, epidurals do not come without risks, which may include the following:
- Increased chance of forceps or other birth interventions, since pushing may be hampered
- Elevated risk of emergency cesarean section
- Changes to baby’s or mother’s blood pressure or heart rate
- Baby not positioning correctly
- Adverse reactions to the drugs that are used in the epidural
- Nerve damage
Before you decide not to get an epidural based on these risks alone, you should realize that adverse events are relatively rare. It can help you be better prepared to make the best decision for the birth of your child by speaking with your doctor about the options available to you, as well as the benefits and risks.