Image of doctor administering an epidural in patient's back

What Are the Risks of Receiving an Epidural?

What is an Epidural?

An epidural is a common form of pain relief used during labor. The combined analgesic and anesthetic pain relievers are administered through a tube in the back. Once it kicks in, the medication will block pain signals that go to your brain. You’ll also lose some feeling below your waist; however, you’ll be awake and able to push when it’s time to deliver your baby. Although epidurals are generally safe and many women who have epidurals have no problem with labor and delivery, there are some side effects that you should know.

Most Common Side Effects of an Epidural

Some of the following side effects are common, typically do not pose any health risks, and resolve in a relatively short time:

  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fever
  • Soreness in the back
  • Difficulty urinating

Lowered blood pressure can also be a side effect since an epidural causes blood vessels to relax. However, if blood pressure drops too low, it can impact how blood flows to your baby. To avoid the risk of decreased blood flow to the baby, medical professionals will administer intravenous (IV) fluids before the epidural procedure. Your blood pressure should also be monitored during labor, and medication is given to correct low blood pressure if needed.

Rare, But Severe Side Effects of an Epidural

While the following side effects are uncommon, it’s critical for medical professionals to monitor you for the following warning signs:

  • Breathing problems or slowed breathing
  • Severe headaches
  • Infection
  • Seizures
  • Nerve damage

Many studies have concluded that receiving an epidural can increase the likelihood of needing an assisted delivery with vacuum extraction or forceps. Although assisted delivery devices can be safe when used properly, they also come with some birth injury risks. To learn more about the common causes of birth injuries, visit our birth trauma page.

Did You or Your Baby Suffer a Birth Injury? The Beasley Firm, LLC Can Help.

When you or your baby has suffered a birth injury, it can be devastating — and if it could have been prevented, it can be that much more distressing. When medical professionals fail to act accordingly and give patients the legal standard of care, you have the right to hold them accountable for their negligence.

When you need help taking legal action, The Beasley Firm, LLC is here to help protect your rights. We’ll help you pursue compensation and justice against those responsible. You can trust us to help you through a difficult time and give you support every step of the way.

Contact The Beasley Firm, LLC at (215) 866-2424 to schedule a free consultation with our caring team today.