Epidural is a topic we always have to talk about. They are offered so commonly, mothers have to decide just how they feel about an epidural for their own birth. Here is an article written by Dr. Sarah J. Buckley, author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering and Ecstatic Birth about the risks of epidurals. The article goes into detail about how epidurals lower the normal hormones of birth, slowing labor and changing how a mother experiences her first bonding with her baby. The article also discusses the increase in instrument deliveries and the risks of greater postpartum bleeding and how epidurals can effect breastfeeding. It is worth reading the article.
The epidural rate in American hospitals is very high. All birthing women need to figure out their own feelings about epidurals. Moms need to decide the parameters for whether they are willing to accept an epidural or not. My book, Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way, goes into great detail about how an epidural changes labor. It can help a mom decide the epidural question for herself. Moms have reviewed the book and called it fair and understanding about epidurals. There is no single answer to this question that is right for every mother and every labor.
Keep in mind that sometimes an epidural does not do exactly what the mom is hoping it will do. Sometimes she can be so numb that she can’t feel the urge to push strongly enough to birth her baby. In those cases, she will need an instrument (vacuum or forceps) delivery or cesarean birth. Sometimes, being numb is the last thing you want during your labor.