A collection of my posts on labour epidurals.
Introduction and declaration of bias
Epidurals and bonding
Epidurals and breastfeeding part I
Epidurals and breastfeeding part II
Epidurals and progression of labour
The “mandatory” epidural for high risk women/ pregnancies
I was wondering if you could provide some insights on this topic;
Why does this happen? Can it be fixed mid surgery, or does the anesthesiologist have their hands tied? Several mothers have commented on Navel Gazing Midwife saying this has happened to them, or they know someone it’s happened to. How common is this? What sort of disciplinary action should the anesthesiologist face? Or is this just an accepted risk of the procedure?
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Thank you for your series on epidurals! The information is so comforting! I have had 2 “natural” births and am not interested in the agony a third time. I was terrified of epidurals due to NCB brainwashing before reading your site.
I do have a question I wonder if you can answer. I was searching for information about recovering from an epidural when I came across this thread on babycenter about chronic back pain:
Are you aware if any instances of this or studies on it? Could it be damage from the birth itself women are wrongly attributing to the epidural? I am back to being afraid and considering skipping the pain relief, but that scares me.
Thanks if you have any info, and of course, I will ask my doctor, who often advises me not to believe what I read on the Internet. I’m sure because if my prior home birth. 🙂
Epidurals can cause back pain:
1) short term back pain (like bruising) at the site of needle insertion. This is the type that goes away after a while…say a couple of weeks.
2) neuropathic pain. the epidural needle can irritate some nerves in your back. Particularly if the insertion is difficult or it is hard for the anesthesiologist to identify the midline. The incidence of flaring up something like sciatica (numbness, tingling, shooting pain down your legs) is roughly 1/10 000 to 1/ 20 000. Most of this goes away on its own…but like other kinds of sciatica this can take weeks to months to get better. Note that permanent “nerve damage” especially damage to the motor nerves is incredibly rare – like 1/250 000 to 1/ 500 000.
In terms of chronic low back pain or ill-defined musculoskeletal pain…that question was addressed in studies of many women that had an epidural or didn’t and low back pain of that nature is absolutely NOT related to having an epidural as it is just as common in women who didn’t. That is probably due to changes in core strength and changes in the pelvis due to relaxin during the pregnancy and changes due to the passage of the fetus. When women have an epidural and have vague low back pain, they will blame the epidural for sure…but it’s not related. I read through some of that thread…but forgive me because its 14 pages long…most of what is being described is that kind of vague lower back pain that is difficult for doctors to diagnose and usually has no real cause…imaging is generally normal and treatment generally consists of pain meds, meds to reduce muscle spasm and physical conditioning. I suspect a lot of this back pain could be effectively treated with core strengthening.
I hope that helps. Do you want me to find you some scientific references on it? I can get out the references…just not from my current location.
Thank you for your quick reply. That’s actually what I suspected, that it was rare and people with vague back pain were blaming the epidural.
I find that really reassuring. Don’t go and spend time digging up studies. I think what I will do is talk to the anesthesiologist when I have it done. I want to ask him/her about reducing the risk of an instrumental delivery anyway.
I am just so relieved that this is even an option for me. If I hadn’t found your site, I’d be way too afraid to try pain relief. Thank you!!!
I found you when I googled “good enough,” a phrase I lived with when I studied DW Winnecott’s good enough mother. As I read more, I recalled the wonderful experience I had with my second delivery and an epidural by “Dr. Hershey.” I said to him later that I could have “kissed” him. I avoided an epidural for my first delivery due to the exact mis information you detail on this site. The delivery still went easy compared to the horror stories I have heard. Thank you for writing.
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