Five Epidural Myths

Although most women in the U.S. use pregnancy epidurals (and/or spinal epidurals) to relieve the pain of childbirth, myths about pregnancy epidural procedures abound. Unfortunately, these myths cause more than a little consternation for many pregnant women. Much time is spent worrying not only about the pain of labor and delivery, but also about the methods to relieve the pain. Here are five of the most widely held myths about epidurals: * Epidurals will slow down my labor This is a commonly believed myth, but in fact is not true. Since 2005, there have been four scientific studies published on this issue. Three of the studies found that instead of slowing down labor, pregnancy epidurals and spinal epidurals actually speed labor up – especially when pregnancy epidurals are given before the cervix is 4 cm dilated. The fourth (and largest) of the studies showed no difference in how long labor lasted, whether or not a pregnancy epidural was used. So pregnancy epidurals do not slow labor down – they may even speed it up. * Epidurals will increase the chance that I will need a cesarean This is an old myth will not go away, even though many studies from different parts of the world have found that pregnancy epidurals do NOT increase the chance of needing a cesarean. So why all the confusion despite solid scientific evidence? It’s because pregnancy epidurals are associated with cesareans, but they don’t cause cesareans. What do I mean by this? Well, women who have difficult, painful labors are more likely to need a cesarean. And these are the SAME women who are...

Pain Control and Breast-feeding

Most mothers-to-be plan to breast-feed their babies. While there are many different factors involved in successful breast-feeding, one factor that is not usually even considered is the pain that a mother may experience after delivery. In fact, if the pain is severe, it can be a very important factor in whether breast-feeding is successful or not. * The pain of childbirth doesn’t end at the moment of delivery. Pain is common after both vaginal and caesarean delivery. After vaginal delivery, the pain is most severe in the tissues of the vagina and the perineum. For women who have had episiotomies or tears, the pain is even worse. After a caesarean, the pain is felt mainly in the abdomen, at the incision. * Whether you have a vaginal or caesarean delivery, the uterus continues to contract after your baby is born, and breast-feeding actually increases that pain. The contractions that return your uterus to its non-pregnant state hurt. And these contractions (called “after-pains”) are intensified by breast-feeding, an act that causes the release of oxytocin–the body’s natural pitocin–from your pituitary gland. So breast-feeding itself causes you more pain. And the pain that occurs during breast-feeding gets worse with each subsequent baby you have. Women that have many children say that the after-pains can hurt even more than labor. * When humans experience pain, they aren’t at their best to interact with others, which makes it more difficult to nurse. Most people suffering from pain would just like to curl up in bed and not deal with anything else. But if you’re a new mom, there’s a newborn counting on you...

Epidural Without Guilt

Epidural Without Guilt is the book that takes the fear and mystery out of pain relief for childbirth. In this groundbreaking work, Dr. Gilbert Grant analyzes the latest medical studies about pregnancy epidurals and spinal epidurals, and presents them in a commonsense, reader-friendly format. Dr. Grant delivers a completely new way to look at pregnancy epidurals. Instead of focusing only on the risks of getting an epidural, he discusses something few people ever consider: the risks of NOT getting one. Mothers-to-be and even health care professionals may be surprised to learn epidural information: Can speed up labor Do not increase the risk of cesarean May reduce the likelihood of postpartum depression Can help with breast-feeding Pregnancy Epidurals Spinal...