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Routine Epidural Turns Deadly

This is an article I've gotten several times through emails or my doula groups, so I thought I would pass it on and share. It's a pretty sad tale, but I think it speaks more to hospital cleanliness & care than to the actual epidural procedure. Still, given the number of folks who make such flippant comments as "There's no risks with epidurals", it pays to be aware.

Julie LeMoult's Story

Also, take a look at the following:

Epidural Risks & Side Effects


Medical Risks of Epidural Anesthesia During Childbirth

Epidurals can be a blessing for women in labor, but it always pays to review both benefits and risks in order to decide what's best for each family. The misconception that epidurals are prefectly safe needs to be addressed. It's so sad to see a momma make a comment like, "I want my epidural when I get to the parking lot of the hospital!" Or even worse, the constant "Are you ready for your epidural now?" by nurses. Taken too early in labor, epidurals can slow labor progress and lead to even more interventions. With an epidural you immediately have: continuous fetal monitoring, catheterization, IV, and you must remain in bed. All too often, it also leads to more interventions like artificial rupture of membranes (to try to 'speed up' labor if it stalls as a result of the epidural), vacuum/forceps if mother can't feel well enough to push, episiotomies, and even cesareans.

I have supported mothers who received epidurals, and it allowed a much-needed rest. They certainly have their place in the birthing room, but let's make sure that the misconceptions are banished, and that the choice is truly an informed one.

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Comments

a_treitell
Jun. 19th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
It's funny, before my labor with Fiona, I never thought I'd EVER feel the urge to defend the epidural, it was a horrible,horrible thing for women who weren't strong enough to allow their bodies to do what they knew how to do.

*laughs* Now I HAVE to say thank you for pointing out that they do have their place in the labouring room.. It took me a lot of work right after she was born to keep from feeling like a total failure.

(for the whole story, http://peithecelt.livejournal.com/90133.html#cutid1 and http://peithecelt.livejournal.com/90609.html#cutid1)

What I left out was that I started on the narcotics, hoping that I just needed a little nap and I'd wake up fully dialated and ready too go (too much Birthstory on TLC ;)), then when that wore off, I moved up to the intrathecal... which also wore off with me still just at 6 or 7 at which point I was done (in case you didn't read the links, the narcotics were given after 24 hours of unmedicated backlabor to coincide with them starting pitocin, when I'd woken up after only about 2 1/2 hours of sleep in labor.... I was EXHAUSTED) and I got the epi...
a_treitell
Jun. 19th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
lol, sorry... nothing like a woman rambling about her birth.. DIdn't mean to.. ;)
ahavah
Jun. 19th, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
Are you kidding? I LOVE birth stories! And yours sounded so sweet. I tell you, though, I wish shows like Birthstory or Baby Story showed a more realistic view of birth. Even the new one - I forget the name, but it's supposed to center around a birth center - raises hackles one proponents of 'normal birth'. It's a bit of a misconception that the "average" birth is 12 hours - maybe, but an average first birth is more like 18 hours.

And the first birth I attended was more like yours - I forget how long she labored all together, but I ended up staying with her for 36 hours. We were both tired! lol That was a momma that really wanted a natural birth, but after 16 or 20 hours, she asked for an epidural. I must say that I don't blame her. I think the rest really allowed her to regroup and have a more effective pushing stage. I always try to be sure mommas don't feel they 'failed' if they have an epidural when hoping for an unmedicated birth. Women are so strong, and I've seen those needles...I'm in awe of a woman even more if she can sit through that. ;) I do think that a woman should try to labor as long as possible without one, if only because staying upright and walking & moving around lets gravity help with the decent of baby, and it can shorten labor in the long run. But I'd never think less of a woman for choosing to avail herself of it if she needs it.

And please, never feel the need to apologize for talking birth here at my journal. ;) If anything, I'd love to hear MORE! LOL
ahavah
Jun. 19th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
On* proponents of normal birth. Gah, I tell myself I'll never post before coffee, but I always do..
a_treitell
Jun. 19th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
Well, even if the average first birth is 18, mine was double that.. LOL all backlabor... and I went six hours over that before I went for the meds..:)

I walked for about the first 14 hours or so, but after that, the contractions were so awful on my back that it hurt too much. :(

Seriously though, I came out my labor really believing that thereisn't ANYTHING I can't do. I went into it mostly wanting a healthy baby and preferably a healthy me with no abdominal scars... And I managed to get that..

that makes me SO happy..
ahavah
Jun. 19th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's great! And that empowerment is really what's important in a birth. No matter what the choices, as long as mom did what's right *for her*...
a_treitell
Jun. 20th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
*nods* Yup, I really gave a fully natural birth a fighting chance, and honestly, my midwives were fantastic about talking to me and letting me be the final decision maker, acting with lots of information about delivery.. I loooved my midwives (i had 2 over the entire thing *laughs*) (It is a CNM practice attached to an Ob-Gyn practice, so they do switch when the shifts end).