Advantages and Disadvantages of Epidural Anesthesia

We all know epidural is a local anesthetic that just blocks the pain in a specific area of person’s body like the lower back, groin and legs, by blocking the nerve impulse which travels down to the spinal cord. This can be administered in conjunction with some other drugs to assist the mother during labour in many ways, such as stabilising the mother’s blood pressure.

Advantages of an Epidural Anesthesia

It is one of the most common form of pain relief for many reasons, there are some advantages that provides to the mother, including the follow

Alertness – when other anesthetics can cause loss of alertness to the mother during the pregnancy the epidural allows her to be alert and awake during her labour.

Relief – when pain is minimised women comes with a positive birth experience. This time relief helps a lot.

Blood Pressure – high blood pressure can create many problems, so epidural help in stabilising the blood pressure at the time of labour which can cause complications.

Medication – the regulation of the medication can be done. The amount of the anesthetic can be increased or decreased depending on the condition of the mother. 

Disadvantages of the Epidural Anesthesia

Every pain relief medication have some amount of disadvantages, there are also disadvantages with the epidural, including the following

Headache – the problems and risks are very rare but in some cases women may experience severe headache and this result in loss of spinal fluid. But again, this can be relieved using what is called as “blood patch”.

For Baby’s Welfare – it is still not proved but some experts say that it can affect the baby’s ability to ‘latch on’ to the mother during the time of breastfeeding.

Blood Pressure – we have seen that epidural helps in stabilising the blood pressure but in some cases it cause the drop of blood pressure suddenly. This will be regulated at the time of other medication.

Labour Slows – as the mother becomes totally immobile the labour process becomes slow.

Assisted Delivery – as the women become immobile the labour process turns slow so there is a high risk of assisted delivery, in which use of forceps, ventous or caesarean section is done.

Epidural Anesthesia Side effects

Minor Effects – due to advance treatment methods and advanced medicines risk is very low but then also some women feel backache, headache and nausea. Some women have convulsions, toxic drug reactions, septic meningitis, hypotension, dual puncture, shivering, respiratory insufficiency or paralysis, prolonged labour, feeling of emotional detachment, uneven or incomplete pain relief, allergic shocks, cardiac arrest, and maternal death.

Some long term side effects are backache, neurological complications, postpartum feelings of regret, parenthesis, inability to urinate and loss of perineal sensation and sexual function.