what's hot around the web

baby registry

need to buy a gift?

Find baby registries (at top retailers!) and websites with one easy search.

you asked...

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

Q: Do many people face complications after having an epidural during labor?

Re: Q: Do many people face complications after having an epidural during labor?

The Bump Expert

Most women don't experience any side-effects after getting an epidural. A headache is probably the most common side effect and can happen if the needle used to place the epidural catheter accidentally punctures the dural membrane of the spine. This puncturing causes the leakage of cerebrospinal fluid and leads to what’s known as a spinal headache. But not to worry -- it only happens in 1-2% of epidural catheter placements. While it was initially thought that the epidural is associated with back pain after delivery, more recent data shows no link between the two. And thankfully, nerve damage is a very rare complication that most moms never have to deal with. In other rare cases, if the epidural needle accidently punctures a blood vessel, this can cause bleeding around the spinal cord (which is a spinal or epidural hematoma). In this situation, pressure from the collecting blood can place pressure on the nerves and spinal cord and cause permanent injury to nerves. But again, spinal or epidural hematomas are very rare, and have only been found to occur in 1 out of 200,000 OB patients who receive an epidural.

Dr. Ashley Roman

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I had 2 epidurals and after the first one started wearing off I itched all over (which was particularly annoying while pushing). The second one caused me to shake violently (which the nurses said was perfectly normal and happens to a lot of women). The shaking was so bad I was unable to hold my baby for the first 30-60 minutes. I would honestlly say to avoid them. I know I sure am when I deliver this baby!

princessjillybean |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

My epidural was a life saver! I LOVED it! The only "down" side was I had a small bruise where the catheter went in and of course the "shivering" after it started to wear off. Other than that, they were great! I will have one EVERY TIME! :)

utchic99 |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I have had 3 children and am expecting my 4th. I have had epidurals with all 3 and have never had a problem with any of them. I had the shivering too but it wasn't that bad. I will be having a 4th one too. :-)

sammtin |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

Yes- epidurals tend to show down labor, which will often cause the Doctor to start Pitocin. Pitocin often causes the baby to go into distress with irregular heartbeat patterns. Then the doctor recommends a C-section. Also, epidurals interfere with breastfeeding by making the baby too sleepy to nurse the first 2 days, which then leads to supplementing with formula and engorgement when your milk comes in. Engorgement is painful and makes it hard for the baby to latch on, causing frustration, more supplimentation, and finally many women will give up on breastfeeding, saying my baby just couldn't do it. Epidurals also make it harder for most women to get back on their feet after delivery to do their own baby care, such as bathing. Be informed- there are significant risks with every intervention!

Greenvilledoula |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

Greenvilledoula- I think you've over-exaggerated a bit. Yes, there are risks for every medical procedure, but epidurals are very safe in this day and age. Epidurals will slow down labor if you request it too early, so just focus on the pain-management techniques you learn in the birthing classes. Once the pain gets unbearable, you shouldn't feel bad to take advantage of something thousands of women use every year. My induced labor finally started to pickup after my epidural. In addition, they can be very helpful if the need arises for an emergency c-section, or if you need stitches after delivery. One reaction they didn't list is that women with low-blood pressure may experience a sharp drop. I had to be on oxygen until after delivery. Otherwise, no problems for me. I plan on having another with this baby.

thatnursingchick |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I went to 9 cm with my son without an epidural, and the only reason I gave in and had one was because my DR who I trust with everything I have (he delivered my little sister, her son, and my son) told me I was going to tear and I was going to tear bad and if I was his wife, sister, mother, friend he would tell me to have it. That being said, I seriously was in misery for hours during labor, by the end of it I was so hot and sweaty and miserable, I just wanted it to be over! After I recieved the epidural I remember thinking to myself "I made my labor absolutley miserable for no reason!" I will be having an epideral around 5 or 6 cm this time so I can relax and enjoy this amazing experience! There was absolutely nothing wrong with my son or I for having it and I think it made the end of my labor a more beautiful experience because I was able to focus on him being born and witness this beautiful moment without the distraction of pain and misery. At the end of the day, why make yourself suffer if you do not have to? Enjoy the experience and do not feel guilty for wanting to be pain free and in good spirits for the birth of your child!


Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I have to agree with Greenvilledoula that with any intervention there are risks associated. Although above it says there is no link to back pain and epidurals my cousin would disagree. The pain experienced during childbirth is a natural pain, which can be a comforting fact. When it comes down to it, its your choice to make and there really is no right or wrong, just weight the pros and cons and do what is right for you.

DELegroulx |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I had two epidurals during labor back in 2007 and now i suffer from long term migraines.

kaitreena14 |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

The answer is fluid. What is many to you? As a doula assisting with birth for 15 yrs. I have seen my share of great epidurals that helped my clients tremedously during long complicated deliveries where the labor was causing suffering. I have also saw epidurals that have not worked that had to be replaced multiple times, and still not work. Then there are the moms that are the one in 10,000 or whatever the statistic is, that have permanent nerve damage as a direct result to the epidural. Nerve damage that causes them to use a walker or wheelchair to get around for the rest of their lives. A question to ask yourself if contemplating one is at what point would you accept that risk vs. not take the chance of being that one in ??? Not here to judge anyone. I think it is great you are asking these questions. Do more research and make informed choices that you are comfortable with. Also there is no risk with not having one...just saying.

iamadoula |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I agree with MRSCOPPAGE.. if you would like meds, you shouldn't let anyone make you feel guilty about it. I hate how everyone on this website is always saying "why risk it?" (epidural, caffeine, dying your hair, eating cheese, etc). We do dozens, if not hundreds of things every day that put ourselves at risk without even realizing it. That's life. There's an extremely slim chance that you could get into an accident on your way to the hospital, suffer nerve damamge from your injuries, and have to have a c-section but does that mean you are going to have your hubby push you to the hospital in a wheelchair? Talk to your doctor and make the decisions you feel are right for you. And to Greenville Doula - Shame on you for trying to scare women into making the decision YOU feel is the right one. Your information is presented inaccurately in the sense that, while the complications are possible, they happen rarely. Don't try to convince new moms that if they seek pain relief, they will end up having a c-section and not be able to breastfeed. As a doula you should be providing support and education, not scare tactics.

mvmierzw |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I agree with Greenvilledoula. Epidurals are partially to blame for the C-sect epidemic in the United States (since it can slow down labor and the baby's heart rate which will lead to the surgery) and it effects your baby too. For example, a baby with epidural in its system will have the anesthetic levels in its blood, it will display drugged behavior such as trembling, irritability and immature motor activity (all of which can make latching on more difficult) and it can take up to 5 days after birth for behavioral recovery. These are serious things to think about before having an epidural! Those who say they are no big deal have not taken the time to educate themselves. Epidurals are great in certain circumstances such as prolonged and difficult labors or when the mother is too exhausted to push. No one is trying to scare anybody. We can all benefit from being more educated about our birthing choice...there is no harm in that!

jennjenn5158 |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

Jennjenn you are absolutely right.

Perrin024 |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

for the most part I have only heard wonderful things. However I was that 1% who walked in a tiny hospital (in labor 3 weeks early!) on a sunday night at 11pm. I got the worst tech EVER. He missed the first time, and punctured SOMETHING in my back that hasnt been right since (the pain is AWFUL) the SECOND TIME, he was scraping my spine- imagine THAT feeling and sound never leaving you.. the THIRD time, he couldnt even get it in, because I was crying and shaking so badly. Finally told the guy to get his hands off me, he was really arrogant to me- the nurse kept blaming me (for their records im sure) that it was my fault because I wasn't sitting still... The next morning after horrible labor through the night, another dr came in and brought a tech he was training, who got it in perfectly- I was as shaky (if not more) as the night before and the new nurse was so wonderful, the dr was funny and made the experience wonderful, after it was in I felt like kissing the man- heres my take- YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHOSE WHO WORKS ON YOU. IF you get some cocky jerk that walks in, most likely he wont be caring and gentle on you through the procedure! Also, see if there is a waiver to sign allowing a witness to be in the room. They made my husband leave. I should have asked for him to stay...

ChamberBaby |


Many women are criticizing GreenvilleDoula, but when nearly 1/3 of women are getting C sections and many young moms are choosing not to breast feed, can you argue with her statistics? They are correct! Birth is natural, and is supposed to happen a certain way (there's always the high risk births where intervention is necessary) but for the rest of us, the epidurals, inductions, planned C sections, pitocin, etc, its just causing us more problems than we would've had if we had let nature take its course.

madisonbradford94 |


At what stage of labor epidural is put ?

Maleeshah |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

madisonbradford94, what does not breastfeeding have to do with anything? Not everyone is able to, and that is no one else's business anyway and has zero to do with the subject. You're not winning people to your side with that.

little_bren |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

Clearly, no one wants to face complications, but they are often unavoidable. And sometimes delivering without medication is just not an option. What is bothering me about posts on this page is the uneducated, harsh judgment. Firstly, everyone has a different level of pain tolerance and no pain-management system works for absolutely everyone. Secondly, the epidural does not cross the placenta, so there isn't the risk of medicating your baby like there is with I.V. medications. Let's not make women feel bad for having a lower pain tolerance or facing different choices than you would make.

rckstr4lfe |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I really wanted a completely natural birth with my first baby. I was in labor for four days, pushed for 6 hours, and needed pitocin for the last 3 hours to get the contractions strong enough to push him out. I got so angry by the end I pushed him out minutes before they were about to give me a c-section. I didn't want an epidural because the huge needle in the back and the potential migraines scared me. Having said that, the final push without pain medication was ridiculously painful. Truly. It took me a while to get over it. And I needed to be stitched afterwards and they had to give me a local. It wasn't that big of a deal though. On the other hand, my son was nursing immediately, and I could go to the bathroom right away. I also spent a long time dealing with contractions in the hot tub, and I couldn't have done that with an epidural. I'm pregnant again, and I've been amazed by the number of women who have told me that they had an epidural and it only worked on one leg, so they were in pain, but they couldn't move and they couldn't use the hot tub. Or one woman whose back was fused because they popped something when giving her the epidural. I do not want an epidural. They freak me out. I understand that some women can't handle pain, and I do not judge them. The thing is, labor pain is natural- it's not like slamming your finger in a car door- and it's predictable. I'd avoid the epidural personally, it just doesn't seem worth it. Besides, I feel like a rock star knowing that I could push out a baby without a bunch of interventions. And, I could go to the bathroom really soon after giving birth. I hear you can't do that with an epidural.

lnarcisistewart |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

young moms probably don't choose not to breast feed because they got an epidural. its more likely because breastfeeding is exhausting and so is raising a newborn alone. the combination is enough to collapse a new mommy. don't be so judgmental

msteph113 |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

I experienced every single thing that Greenvilledoula said was a risk with an epidural. Literally every single one. I have been researching alternative pain control methods and other simple medications even, rather than have another epidural. I had such a bad experience with it that I'm really going to try to avoid it. One thing in particular was the complete lack of control I had due to having an epidural. Honestly I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety regarding the upcoming birth of my daughter due to the awful experience I had with my first, which I firmly believe was mostly due to the epidural (however some of it was due to unpleasant L&D staff).

kematzen |

Q: Do many people face complications from epidurals?

With my first two, I went with no pain meds. I was exhausted afterwards-and yes, had the shakes, which isn't unusual after a medicated or non-medicated birth. The third time, I went with an epidural at 4cm. Labor slowed, only for an hour. But there was NO PAIN!! My baby was born alert and I felt fine. In fact I left the hospital within 48 hours. I could have kicked myself for thinking I had to "prove something" by having horrific pain bringing my babies into the world. You don't. Nor did it interfere with pushing or breastfeeding or going to the bathroom. I had no problems afterward-no backache, no bruising, no headache (and I have premenstrual migraines due to hormone fluctuations) I am due in the Spring, and epidural IS my birth plan. Don't ever let anyone shame you into suffering to prove what a martyr you can be! P.S. An anesthesiologist should be the ONLY one allowed to give an epidural, never a "tech".

mstfd |