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Perhaps you are pregnant and contemplating the use of epidural anesthesia in labor, but really want to learn more about the side effects before making the decision. Or maybe you are already postpartum, but are worried about some unexpected symptoms and wondering if they could be related to your epidural. Either way, here is a list of side effects of epidural anesthesia in labor.

  • One of the most frequent adverse affects of epidural anesthesia is a sudden drop in maternal blood pressure. Because this is very common, your blood pressure will be measured during labor so that a dangerous drop can be detected quickly. Some women need additional medication that helps their blood pressure increase. Low blood pressure can restrict the flow of blood, and your baby's oxygen supply could be compromised.
  • A headache after epidural anesthesia is also a fairly common side effect. This can be caused by a leakage of spinal fluid, and will either go away on its own or need additional treatment, which you can read about in the linked article on the topic of headaches after an epidural.
  • Soreness at the insertion site can happen right away, or can persist for a while after the epidural has worn off. The site may also be bruised.
  • Some women experience nausea and vomiting with an epidural.
  • Once your epidural is in place, you will need to lie laterally, meaning on one side. Lying on one side may be uncomfortable, and can also cause labor to slow down or stop altogether in some cases.
  • Some women have allergic reactions to one of more of the ingredients used in their epidural.
  • Pushing can be harder for women who have received epidural anesthesia. Like the rate of augmented labor goes up with an epidural, so does the rate of assisted deliveries with forceps or vacuum.

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