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Epidural Side Effects After Birth: Is There Anything to Be Worried About?

Epidural Side Effects After Birth: Is There Anything to Be Worried About?

An epidural is the most common method for providing pain relief to mothers who are about to give birth1. Doctors usually give epidurals for mothers about to undergo a cesarean or C-section, as well as during labor and natural births. Despite the benefits, it’s also important to know that there are some possible epidural side effects.

Read on to learn more about these side effects, as well as when you should be worried about them.

Possible epidural side effects

For the most part, epidural anesthesia is safe and mothers should not be too worried about it. In fact, epidural anesthesia contains the lowest amount of medication, which means that mothers aren’t “knocked out” while they give birth. This means that they will be able to nurse and care for their child shortly after giving birth2.

Even if epidurals are safe, there is still a small chance that mothers can experience certain epidural side effects. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms, so that you can immediately inform your doctor about them.

Here are some possible side effects:

Low blood pressure

One of the most common epidural side effects is low blood pressure. This is usually expected, and doctors will be monitoring your blood pressure as you recover. However, if your blood pressure drops too low, then doctors will give you medication to help bring it back up3.

Your blood pressure should be able to go back to normal once you have fully recovered.

Nausea

Second on the list of epidural side effects is nausea. This typically happens as a result of having low blood pressure. Though, it’s possible that the medication given can be the reason why you’re feeling sick. It usually goes away after the anesthesia wears off.

If you experience this side effect, be sure to inform your doctor about it. They can provide you with medication to help relieve nausea.

Loss of bowel or bladder control

Loss of bowel or bladder control is also a fairly common epidural side effect. This is because since the epidural has numbed some of your nerves, you might not be able to tell if you need to go to the bathroom. These symptoms typically go away once the medication used has worn off4.

In the meantime, what doctors usually do is insert a catheter into your bladder in order to help drain the urine.

Headaches

Headaches are fairly uncommon when it comes to epidural side effects. Typically, these can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication, and goes away after a short time.

However, it’s possible for the headaches to last for a few days or even weeks. This is what’s usually known as a spinal headache. For the most part, getting enough rest as well as taking pain medication can help you with this type of headache.

But if it gets worse, or if the pain doesn’t go away, it would be best to consult your doctor about it.

Difficulty walking

Lastly, it’s possible to experience difficulty walking as one of the possible epidural side effects. This happens as a result of the numbing effect of the anesthesia5.

For the most part, you should be able to walk and feel your legs shortly after the anesthesia wears off. However, you might feel some numbness or weakness even after it has worn off. This shouldn’t be anything to worry about, but you’ll need to be extra careful to avoid any slips and falls.

As always, if you experience these symptoms for much longer, or if the numbness doesn’t go away, be sure to consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Learn more about Labor and Delivery here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
  1. PRO and CON: Using a Labor Epidural for Cesarean Delivery – CON: Pull the Epidural Catheter and Perform a Spinal – Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, https://www.apsf.org/article/pro-and-con-using-a-labor-epidural-for-cesarean-delivery-con-pull-the-epidural-catheter-and-perform-a-spinal/, Accessed September 9, 2021
  2. C-Section: Surgery, Risks & Recovery – Made for This Moment, https://www.asahq.org/madeforthismoment/preparing-for-surgery/procedures/c-section/, Accessed September 9, 2021
  3. Side effects of an epidural – NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epidural/side-effects/, Accessed September 9, 2021
  4. Anesthesia during C-Section | My Doctor Online, https://mydoctor.kaiserpermanente.org/ncal/structured-content/Procedure_Anesthesia_C-Section_Birth_-_Anesthesiology.xml?co=%2Fregions%2Fncal, Accessed September 9, 2021
  5. Childbirth: Epidurals | Michigan Medicine, https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn7466, Accessed September 9, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza
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