The Risks of Epidurals Today, According to Our Oregon Birth Injury Attorney
You often hear: “she could not take it any longer—she got the epidural.” Countless women today get epidurals during childbirth because the pain is simply too much to bear. Epidurals provide fast, vast relief to many women during what may very likely be the most important moment in their lives. Relief is good, when administered correctly, though. Anesthesiologists must properly mix pain medications to create an epidural, tailored to each mother. But there are risks of epidurals.
As epidurals are injected near the spine, this could go very right, or very wrong. In the end, the hope is a less painful childbirth, and a safe, happy, and healthy mother and baby. If you or a loved one has had a less than happy epidural experience, please do not hesitate to contact our Oregon birth injury attorney today if you suffered serious personal injuries or birth injuries to a newborn due to epidurals.
Epidurals and How They Are Administered
An epidural is a cocktail of pain medications administered by an anesthesiologist to a mother during childbirth to alleviate the mother’s labor pain. An epidural is regionally administered by the anesthesiologist, and works by blocking the nerve impulses to the lower spine. As a result of this, the mother’s lower half of her body will lose significant portions of sensation, therefore making it easier to give birth. Although sensation is lost in certain parts of the body, the ability to feel pressure is not lost. Maintaining some ability to feel pressure is important so that the mother can push the baby out in the latter stage of labor.
An epidural can be administered at any point during the labor process, so beginning, middle, or end. It is applied by inserting a needle and catheter in the lower part of the mother’s back, near the spine. The needle is then removed and the catheter remains in place for more medication to be added through the tube, if needed. Each amount of pain medication in an epidural differs and is tailored to the mother and baby and their childbirth process itself.
Risks of Epidurals
Since each epidural is tailored to each mother and baby, it is crucial that the anesthesiologist properly calculate what is needed and how much. For example, if the mother’s in severe pain, even after an epidural, she may need more pain medication. The anesthesiologists should know how to gauge this effectively and promptly—there is a fine line between pain management and no longer remaining safe. Otherwise, not only can the mother be in danger, but, now, also the baby. Some of the dangers to both the mother and baby include the following:
- Decrease in blood pressure—epidurals may lower the mother’s blood pressure, which in turn can lower the baby’s heart rate. If this occurs, it is often routine to be provided fluids through your arm and oxygen and be moved to lie on your side. It is important that the mother does not move too much, or in certain positions, as that can negatively impact or stop the baby’s heart rate. It is also often common for the anesthesiologist to administer medication to lower your blood pressure. In this kind of scenario, your blood pressure, and your baby’s, should be consistently monitored.
- Lowering of fetal heart rate—due to the mother changing positions, the baby’s heart rate may be affected. Both mother and baby’s heart rates should be monitored consistently and the mother should stay in the appropriate position or positions.
- Nerve damage—although rare, nerve damage can occur at the site where the catheter was inserted. Sometimes, this resolves within days to weeks. Other times, it can be permanent.
- Need for forceps, vacuum extractor, and C-Sections—if the epidural is causing pushing to become more difficult, forceps, vacuum extractors, and C-Sections may be utilized, either in conjunction with another, or individually. Forceps, if used improperly, can cause damage to the baby’s skull, resulting in permanent brain damage. Vacuum extractors may also need to be used, which can also cause brain damage if used improperly. C-Sections run the risk of oxygen deprivation if not performed at the right time, which could result in cerebral palsy or other serious impairments.
- Breastfeeding difficulties—some research has shown that babies of epidurals may have difficulty “latching on” during breastfeeding. A lack of effective breastfeeding or breastfeeding entirely can negatively impact the baby’s nutrition if they are not obtaining the necessary nutrients and vitamins.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from an epidural mishap, contact our Oregon birth injury attorney as soon as possible for help today.
Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers that Understand the Risks of Epidurals and How They Could Cause Serious Injuries in Oregon
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.