One of the choices a woman faces once she learns she is pregnant is whether to have a natural, or cesarean (C-section) child birth. In both forms an epidural shot may be administered to temporarily numb. While an epidural is in place, and if the patient is awake during surgery, the patient will be aware of movement in the lower part of the body without the presence of pain. Multiple epidural punctures during delivery is not usually done when one will suffice.
Multiple epidural punctures during delivery may be used in circumstances where labor is taking longer than anticipated and the first epidural treatment has worn off. The local anesthetic is inserted by needle into the epidural sac which lies around the spinal cord just above the lower back. A plastic tube used in the first epidural may remain inserted into the patient in case there is need for another. There is an advantage of using this procedure as it numbs pain for the lower half of the body making childbirth labor easier on the woman. It also helps her to relax.
Complications such as high blood pressure in the mother, a pregnancy with multiple births, and an unfavorable position for the baby may need multiple epidural punctures during delivery. Other emergency conditions, such as problems with the heart, or anxiety can call for one or more epidurals.
Risks from multiple epidural punctures during delivery are rare. Common side effects are bruising and soreness in the area for a few days. Also, the mother may experience shivering and headaches when it wears off. Serious risks include skin abscesses, constant bleeding, fetal distress, neuralgic injury, slowing down, or temporarily stopping contractions, and high spinal block.
The risks for babies whose mothers undergo an epidural include drowsiness at birth, limited responsiveness to surroundings, difficulty settling down and being consoled, inability to suckle for breastfeeding, easy to startle, or irritability. However, these risks are temporary. Call the doctor for babies who show little sign of improvement after a few days.
Since what the mother consumes, or injects into her body can also affect the unborn child, there are some women who prefer a completely natural childbirth. One in which drugs of any sort are avoided. In these cases, the mother refuses one, let alone, multiple epidural punctures during delivery.
Whether the pregnant mother wishes to go through natural delivery without an epidural, or it is used in cesarean section, she should talk to her doctor and learn more about the procedure, risks, and benefits before the date of delivery.