Epidurals and the Risks of Birth Trauma | Scott Goodwin Law

Epidurals and the Risks of Birth Trauma

by / Wednesday, 12 February 2020 / Published in Birth Trauma, Medical Malpractice
Anesthesiologist administering epidural shot to patient

Giving birth is an extraordinarily difficult process, even under the best circumstances, and it’s extremely common for women to use epidural anesthesia to help them cope with the pain that comes along with it. According to the American Pregnancy Association, epidurals are used by over 50% of women who give birth in hospitals.

Epidurals are a type of regional anesthesia which blocks pain in the lower spine. Whether or not an epidural is right for you can depend on many different factors. While some women prefer to skip an epidural, there are some circumstances when it could be beneficial. For example, an epidural might be recommended if a woman has been laboring very hard and becomes physically exhausted. In a situation like that, an epidural might give a mother a chance to rest so that her labor can become more productive. A doctor might also recommend an epidural if there is a chance that you might need a C-section so that it can help with the pain associated with that.

However, like every other type of medical treatment, epidurals involve certain risks. In this case, they can potentially be risky for both the baby and the mother. Even if you’re not planning to use an epidural during your delivery, it’s still important to be informed about the risks involved ahead of time because it’s very common for women to end up having an epidural even after initially deciding against it.

A drop in blood pressure is one very common side effect associated with epidurals, so it’s crucial for the mother’s blood pressure to be carefully monitored after the epidural has been given. In very rare cases, epidurals cause a leakage of spinal fluid that causes severe headaches for the mother and may require an additional treatment known as a “blood patch” to treat. If an epidural isn’t administered correctly, it could potentially cause nerve damage or seizures.

Some studies have also found that epidurals may slow down the birth process, which in turn, can increase the risk of birth injuries.The longer labor goes on, the more likely it is that a child can experience a lack of oxygen or go into distress. It’s also more likely that a doctor will use birth assisting tools, such as forceps or vacuum extractors. If these kinds of tools aren’t used correctly, they can cause problems like brain bleeds and bone fractures. Some studies have also suggested that epidurals may lead to the baby having a difficult time getting into the proper position for birth or having trouble latching on to breastfeed.

If you received an epidural during delivery and believe it may have led to physical harm to yourself or your child, it’s very important to get in touch with a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. If an epidural was administered incorrectly or a doctor failed to warn you of the risks involved, it could be considered a case of medical negligence. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’re experienced in handling Michigan birth trauma cases and can help answer any questions you have about your situation. Contact us today.


Image source: iStock/ChaNaWiT