(NaturalNews) Epidural is the popular choice for over half of American women in labor. Epidurals are especially common with women having their first babies. For the very few women that actually have a medically necessary birth by caesarean section, epidurals are certainly a great alternative to general anesthetic. This allows the mother to see their baby being born, and to hold, bond and breastfeed right away: however, epidural use for a "normal" vaginal birth is highly questionable.
Modern epidurals use chemical anesthetics often delivered in combination with opioids or narcotics sometimes combined with epinephrine. The most popular epidural in the US which is the combined spinal-epidural (CSE), which is a dose of opiate - sometimes with and sometimes without local anesthetic. The CSE often gives pain relief for about two hours - if it works at all and comes with a plethora of effects on mother and child.
Making an informed decision about epidurals
While many expectant mothers have a good experience with an epidural, there is a cascade of events that can happen and do happen when the natural birthing process is medicalized. Knowing and understanding these events should be a part of every expectant parent's informed decisions.
Substantial amounts of epidural drugs enter the mother's blood stream, and pass through the placenta to directly affect the baby by producing "systemic" or whole-body effects for both mother and the emerging newborn. The most common side effect of epidurals is a drop in blood pressure which directly affects how much blood reaches the placenta - leading to less oxygen for the baby.
Epidurals often slow the labor process, making the mother three times more likely to be given oxytocin to speed things back up. This slowdown is, in part, due to the effect of the epidural on a pelvic floor muscles that guide the baby's head to enter the birth canal in the right position. Poor labor progress happens when nerve feedback to the pelvic floor muscles is interfered with. The fact is, having an epidural makes a three times increased chance of forceps being used to pull the baby out of the womb and doubles the odds of a caesarean delivery.
First-time mothers who choose epidurals reduce their chance of a normal delivery over 50%.
Other epidural problems include more episiotomies and stitches, less bladder and bowel control, more likelihood of bladder catheters, numbing of the uterus causing retained placenta and slowing the uterus contractions after birth, nipples and breasts numbness interfering with critical nursing windows, numb patches and weakness (sometimes permanent), prolonged headaches, skin reactions to the drugs, oral herpes caused by morphine, nausea and vomiting, shivering, fevers, infections, heart rate increase in both mother and infant, fetal tachycardia, fetal distress, separation for observation, and possibly antibiotics. And these are the least serious "side effects"!
Some of the more serious effects of epidurals are accidental puncture of the dura, or spinal cord coverings, permanent nerve damage, convulsions, heart and breathing difficulties and death.
But what about the baby?
Because of the baby's immature liver, epidural drugs take days to clear the baby's system causing breathing difficulties and rapid breathing, increased risk of jaundice, infections, difficulties with breastfeeding and angry babies (lasting for weeks or longer) and more.
Pain in childbirth is real, but epidural pain relief may not be the best solution. Talk about other options with your care-givers and friends. Ask questions and make informed decisions about every medical procedure beforehand. Write a solid birth plan and go over it closely with your family and delivery staff. With a good birth plan, loving support, and lots of movement and breathing, most mothers can give their babies the gift of birth without drugs.
If you leave it completely up to the medical professionals you will get what they offer - a birth procedure instead of a blessed event
About the author: Craig Stellpflug is a Cancer Nutrition Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Neuro Development Consultant at Healing Pathways Medical Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. http://www.healingpathwayscancerclinic.com/ With 17 years of clinical experience working with both brain disorders and cancer, Craig has seen first-hand the devastating effects of vaccines and pharmaceuticals on the human body and has come to the conclusion that a natural lifestyle and natural remedies are the true answers to health and vibrant living. You can find his daily health blog at www.blog.realhealthtalk.com and his articles and radio show archives at www.realhealthtalk.com