What are the negative effects of an epidural?
From: The Cochrane Collaboration
- Anim-Somuah, M., Smyth, R.M., Jones, L., 1996. Epidural versus non-epidural or no analgesia in labour, in: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- 38 studies involving 9,658 women
- The paper is a systematic review / meta analysis of all relevant trials.
- This means that the data from all similar trials has been grouped to form an overall outcome.
- Epidurals relieved labour pain better than other types of pain medication but led to more use of instruments to assist with the birth.
- Caesarean delivery rates did not differ overall and nor were there effects of the epidural on the baby soon after birth; fewer babies needed a drug (naloxone) to counter opiate use by the mother for pain relief.
- Women who used epidurals were more likely to have a longer delivery (second stage of labour), needed their labour contractions stimulated with oxytocin, experienced very low blood pressure, were unable to move for a period of time after the birth (motor blockage), had problems passing urine (fluid retention) and suffered fever.
- Negative effects; primarily an increased risk of having an instrumental delivery