The first epidural was used by a neurologist in New York in 1885. Dr. Leonard J. Corning injected cocaine into his patient’s back to treat spinal weakness and seminal incontinence.
Since then, epidurals have quickly become the most popular method of pain relief during labor in the United States today by far.
According to a Listening to Mothers II survey conducted in 2006, more than 75% of U.S. women reported receiving an epidural. In contrast, only 54% of women in Canada and only 22% of women in England reported having an epidural before or during delivery.
Impact on Hormones
Epidurals may inhibit beta-endorphin production, a naturally occurring opiate that works to restore internal balance in response to pain and stress. It is also responsible for the dopamine-driven reward system that produces feelings of pleasure during sex, birth, and breastfeeding.
Epidurals may reduce oxytocin production during labor. Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone for its relationship with sexual activity, birth, and breastfeeding. Later on, this hormone plays a major role in the promotion and development of a strong maternal bond. Oxytocin is also the hormone responsible for the uterine contractions necessary to open your cervix (dilate) and help your baby be born.
These are only a few of the many hormonal changes that result in epidural use and everyone can be vulnerable to these imbalances.
Consequences of Medical Intervention
Studies have shown that epidurals can contribute to the following side effects on laboring mothers and their babies:
-Increased risk of severe perineal tear
-Increased risk of cesarean section
-Increased need of synthetic oxytocin, or Pitocin
-Decreased chances the baby will be in the correct birthing position in the final stages of labor
-Decreased chances of spontaneous vaginal delivery
-Increased occurrence of complications with instrumental delivery
-Increased risk of pelvic floor problems
-Prevalence of drug-toxicity in newborns
-Increase of deficits in newborn abilities
-Compromised fetal blood and oxygen supply and heart rate
-Interference with initial mother-baby bonding
-Possible decrease in breastfeeding efficiency
While epidurals are an effective and useful form of pain relief intervention during childbirth (when appropriate), they can cause unexpected side effects in both the mother and baby. Although in some cases epidurals are incredibly beneficial, they should not necessarily be a routine procedure for the majority of births.
My goal is to share with you how you can best prepare for a medication free birth without the need for medical intervention at my next event, Preparing For A Natural Birth on Thursday, November 15th at 12:15 pm EST at .
During this experience, we will be discussing different breathing exercises, exercises, and more to ensure you will have an empowering and deeply satisfying childbirth experience!
Can’t Wait To Share With You On Thursday, November 15th At 12:15 pm EST!