Frequently Asked Questions
Epidurals do not affect the progress of labor. However, labor that is progressing more slowly than than average has been associated with higher levels of pain and this higher level of pain may make a woman more likely to request an epidural.
Serious undesired effects of an epidural are very rare and your doctor will do everything possible to make sure that they do not occur. If anesthesia medication enters your bloodstream, for example, instead of the epidural space, it could cause a serious reaction. To avoid this, your doctor will test the catheter location prior to administering the anesthesia medication to be sure that they will go into the correct location in your body. Or, if the level of the epidural block were to become too high, it could cause breathing problems. To avoid this, your doctor will check the level frequently to be sure that it is at the desired level. Sometimes even a well-functioning epidural can cause a decrease in blood pressure. Your doctor will monitor blood pressure throughout the birth process and if needed, treat blood pressure that is determined to be below the optimal level.
When people are expecting a baby, they often ask about epidural anesthesia. They want to know how it's given and what to expect. Watch this short video to learn more.