Will epidural medication affect my baby?
The medications used to produce epidural anesthesia are local anesthetics.
Unlike most pain medications, they do not make your baby sleepy, depress
its breathing, or make it slow to feed. Healthy babies with excellent APGAR
(a test used to evaluate the general health of newborns) scores are born
every day to mothers who have received epidural anesthesia.
What are the risks to me?
We are very proud of providing safe anesthesia to many thousands of
women. Like any procedure, though, epidural anesthesia has some risks:
1. Your blood pressure may become lower from the epidural. The nurse will
check your blood pressure often, and plenty of IV fluids will be given to help
maintain normal blood pressure. You should lie on your side to keep your
baby from compressing the large blood vessels in your abdomen; this will
help to maintain a normal blood pressure.
2. The needle or catheter may go into one of the many blood vessels in the
epidural space. While rare, if this happens, the anesthesiologist may have
to reinsert the catheter.
3. In approximately 1 percent of epidural and spinal anesthetics, the needle
may cause a spinal fluid 'leak' leading to a headache. In most cases, the
headaches will go away by themselves; sometimes another procedure may
be necessary to eliminate them.
4. Occasionally, a sensation of numbness or tingling may last for a few days
or weeks after vaginal delivery even if epidural anesthesia was not given.
Sensation usually will return to normal with no treatment necessary.