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Side Effects of Epidural During Labor

Induced Labor and It’s Side Effects

Giving birth is beautiful, but it can be very painful. Thanks to modern medicine, labor and giving birth can be more bearable with the help of epidurals. 

An epidural includes pain medications called anesthetics. It is applied through a small tube placed in the back next to your spine and may cause a loss of feeling in the lower half of the body. Epidurals are safe, but they may also come with side effects. Here are some side effects of epidural during labor:

Most Common Side Effects of Epidural During Labor

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Epidural may cause a drop in blood pressure, and decreased blood pressure can make you feel lightheaded and nauseous. Some people are also more sensitive to opioid pain relievers than others and the body may try to vomit the drugs. You can ask your doctor to give you medications to calm your stomach if you notice this side effect. 

    • Fever

    According to PubMed Health, about 23% of women who get epidural get a fever after the operation. The reason behind the spike in temperature remains to be unknown.

    • Soreness

    Back pain is common after pregnancy since the weight of your belly bump causes strain on your back, but back soreness is also one of the most common side effects of epidural during labor. Since back pain is common for all types of pregnancy, including non-epidural and epidural, it can be hard to tell whether the cause of the pain is the epidural or simply the weight of the belly during pregnancy. 

    • Itching

    Some medications used in epidural such as opioids can cause itchiness on your skin. When opioid receptors present in the brain get activated, these receptors activate fibers that trigger itch information. Your doctor may change your medication to relieve this symptom.

    • Low Blood Pressure

    As mentioned, your blood pressure may fall when you have an epidural. This is normal and common with about 14% of women experiencing this side effect after an epidural procedure. 

    Low blood pressure happens because epidurals affect the sympathetic nervous system, a series of nerves that control involuntary body functions such as blood flow. After the epidural, your blood pressure will be monitored closely. If necessary, fluids and some medications may be applied to help keep your blood pressure normal.

    • Difficulty Urinating

    An epidural may also cause numbness on the nerves that alert your body when your bladder is full. After the medication has worn off, you will be able to regain bladder control. If necessary, a catheter may be needed to help you empty your bladder while you recover.

    Rare Side Effects of Epidural During Labor

    While there are common side effects of epidural during labor, there are some other risks that may surface in very rare cases.

    • Severe headache
    • Breathing problems
    • Seizure
    • Nerve damage
    • Infection

    Final Words

    Just like any other kinds of medications, an epidural also has some side effects, but the procedure is safe and the symptoms will disappear after the medication fades. Make sure to let your doctor know if some symptoms remain after they are supposed to have worn off.