What You Should Know About Epidurals (part 2)

The Side effects of Epidurals on babies
By Dr.  J. J. Gregor DC, DIBAK, DCCN

We talked yesterday about how epidurals affect the mother, and now I'd like to focus on the side effects of epidurals on babies.  It's easy to see that the epidural can give instant relief to the mother.  However, what may not be so obvious, is what an epidural can do to your baby. 

First, when a drug is administered to mom, keep in mind the baby is still getting everything that she is.  When mom gets a dose of the narcotic and opioid (epidural), Magnesium or any other drug for that matter, the baby gets equal or even higher dose per weight.  The problem is that the baby doesn’t have the ability to metabolize these drugs as well as an adult, and they may be present in the fetal blood for up to 36 hours after the spinal anesthesia is administered. 

Second, studies have shown that some of the local anesthetics used with the epidural may have an adverse effect on the baby’s immune system, and can cause fetal bradycardia, a decrease in the fetal heart rate. 

Third, these drugs can decrease the baby's blood oxygen supply.  This one especially hits home for me because immediately after my son, TJ was born he began to turn blue and was rushed to the NICU.  This was all caused by decreased blood oxygen levels, and I can honestly say one of the scariest moments in my life. 

Fourth, the bonding between the baby and mother can be effected.  There's evidence that mothers who received an epidural had more difficulty with their new-born baby during the first month after spending less time with their baby while in the hospital.  There is no strong cause/effect with these findings, but they may be due to interference with the hormones, specifically oxytocin and prolactin. I do believe an epidural can be beneficial under certain circumstances, and regardless of where the birth takes place if complications arise that require medical intervention, I am completely in support of these cases and a woman’s decision to have a childbirth that is safe and comfortable.  

However, I do not believe epidurals should be used as often and routinely as they are due to possible detrimental side effects for both mother and baby. In the case that you do have an epidural, there are several nutritional, homeopathic and herbal remedies that may be very beneficial to help clear the drugs and their side effects.  It would be best to consult with a well-qualified Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Naturopath or Homeopathic Doctor to find which remedy will work best for you or your child.  

Also, the needle can cause scar tissue and altered mechanics of the spine; you should plan a visit to your Chiropractor to make sure there are no lasting side effects from the injection site.

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