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Is An Epidural Bad for a Newborn? Controversial Parenting Magazine Article

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

An epidural can turn a terrible labor into a tolerable one. Yet a new study suggest this procedure (numbing the are from the waist down enough to alleviate pain but not interfere with pushing) may not be without drawbacks. It's not that epidurals harm the baby but simply that some women who have them develop a fever during delivery, which signals that their newborn may be ill. After undergoing testing and treatment, however, the majority of such infants turn out to be infection free.

Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital studied the medical records of more than 1,600 women who had uncomplicated, normal childbirths. Among the findings: 15 % of those who had epidurals developed a fever, raising a red flag about their infants' health; only 1 % of the new moms who had other forms of pain relief or none at all had fevers. (April's note: How many of these infants were separated from their mother's for extended periods of time...having all sorts of tests performed on them??)

Newborns with infections rarely develop signs of infection (such as a temp rise), so maternal fever is one of the few signs that an infant may be ill. And an infection that's harmless to a new mom, if untreated, can be fatal to her newborn. Some docs, erring on the side of caution, draw blood from these babies for testing and give them shots of antibiotics, which often prolongs their hospital stay up to three days--only to find that most are perfectly healthy. In the study, 86% of the babies who were tested for infection and 87% who received antibiotics were born to mom who had epidurals. But of those tested fewer than 1% were actually ill.

This puts expectant moms in a quandary: whether to go for the epidural or to pass on the one pain alleviator that will allow them to experience the ecstasy of childbirth without the agony. Experts caution against forgoing an epidural solely for this reason; however, because a new mom's temp may rise even without it. "If a woman labors in a heated birthing room for many hours, the physical effort alone may result in a slight fever, " says David Birnbach, MD, director of obstetric anesthesiology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

Besides, experts agree that epidurals are the best labor-pain relief available. So that expectant women won't have to factor in the possibility of a fever when considering an epidural, researchers hope to find ways other than a mother's temp to determine whether a newborn has an infection.

Meanwhile, if you're expecting, your doctor should go over all the pros and cons of having an epidural so when the time comes you'll be prepared to make the choice that is best for you.

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Epidurals and Other Drugs


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