To get an epidural or not is a personal decision. You have to make that decision yourself. Do your research to make an informed decision that's best for you and your baby.
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DANGERS OF EPIDURALS
Epidurals are a complex topic. Because they're so common in hospitals these days everyone assumes they're perfectly safe and absolutely necessary. Here are just some reasons to consider not getting one...
Epidurals Restrict Your Movement
Moving around while in labor helps you stay comfortable, which can only make labor easier. When you have monitors, a catheter, and IV in the way (all required with an epidural) your movement is severely restricted and your discomfort increases.
“The epidural restricts mom to bed, and it restricts her movement. When mom’s movement is restricted it can cause a number of complications, including: fetal distress, low fetal heart rate, and inability for baby to rotate to the anterior position (optimal and normal for birth). [Ultimately] use of the epidural can be a direct cause of c-section.” ~ Deena Blumenfeld, a Registered Prenatal Yoga Instructor and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, via Metropolitan Mama
Increases the Risk of Fever
In a study involving 3,200 women delivering full-term babies at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, researchers found that "over 19 percent of those who had an epidural developed a temperature of greater than 100.4 degrees F compared with just 2.4 percent of women who went without the painkiller. The higher a woman's temperature, the more likely the baby was to experience problems."
Fevers can also lead to an increase in both mama's and baby's heart rates, which often leads to additional tests and screenings of the baby after birth. The result? The separation of mother and baby in the key first hour of baby's life. Kelly Whitehead, author of High-Risk Pregnancy: Why Me? had to leave her baby behind at the hospital after spiking a fever.
She says; "It was extremely hard emotionally to leave my daughter behind. Breastfeeding her kicked off with a rough start since I was separated from her moments after birth."
Reduces The Urge To Push
The urge to push will come naturally if you do not have an epidural toning down the sensation. You will be more likely be to feel how and when to push without an epidural. Your body knows what to do. Ask fellow experienced moms - it can even feel great to push when you have the urge to do so!
Baby wants to come out and your body is telling you how to make that happen.
Chance of C-Section May Increase
Having an epidural can increase your chances of a C-section. This goes back to that pushing effect. Weak pushing can increase the need for a cesarean. It also increases the potential for a longer labor. Long labors can also lead to unnecessary interventions.
A doctor may become worried if the labor is taking longer than expected and push for a C-section. When you're exhausted and struggling through a long labor, if others pressure you it's easy to say Yes to something you normally wouldn't.
After Complications & Breastfeeding
Some studies seem to indicate that recovery times are longer with epidurals and that they can also lead to breastfeeding issues.
Intrapartum analgesia and type of birth were associated with partial breastfeeding and breastfeeding difficulties in the first postpartum week. ~biomedcentral.com
In case you need another reason to forego an epidural:
You Just Love The Idea Of Natural
For some moms, it is important to keep things as natural as possible whether it's foods they ingest or what they put on their skin. Maybe the thought of a natural birth just appeals more to you. Maybe you are a natural kind of women and like to keep things that way.
Some moms just want to be proud of the strength it takes to have a natural birth.
What I do love is the look on peopleʼs faces when I tell them that I -- the same girl who walks in stilettos for a maximum of three blocks before complaining of blisters and hailing a cab -- pushed a 9-plus-pounder and felt every second of it. ~Maia James, Huffington Post
Whatever you decide, it is your choice. We encourage you to make an informed choice (and not let anyone tell you there are no risks to epidurals).
Did you have an epidural? Did you have a drug-free birth? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!
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