Many moms will say that they had “natural childbirth” with their children – but they also had an anesthetic! Mothers have been led to believe that as long as they had a vaginal birth, and their eyes are open, it’s a “natural delivery.”
Nothing could be farther from the truth. An epidural is an anesthetic injected into the lower part of the spine. This drug lessens the pain, it’s true, but also crosses the placenta and directly affects the fetus. The “Physician’s Desk Reference” cautions that “local anesthesia rapidly crosses the placenta . . . and when used for epidural blocks, anesthesia can cause varying degrees of maternal, fetal and neonatal toxicity.” A mother given an epidural is no longer in control of the birth. Often the baby becomes trapped in the birth canal, causing the use of forceps, vacuum extraction or a C-section to rescue the baby.
Often, the Apgar scores of babies of mothers who have had an epidural are lower. The Apgar score is determined by evaluating the newborn baby on five simple criteria (activity, pulse, grimace, respiration, and appearance) on a scale from zero to two, then summing up the five values thus obtained.
The resulting Apgar score ranges from zero to 10. The Apgar scale measures the delivery stress of the fetus and the relative health of the baby. Anything less than a score of ten, indicates possible birth trauma.
- Cause longer and slower progress of labor.
- Can cause fevers in moms during childbirth.
- Increase the use of the labor inducing drug, pitocin, by as much as three and a half times, which causes slow, irregular contractions.
- Increase the use of antibiotics in the baby by as much as four times.
- Increase the use of forceps by as much as 20 times.
- Cause neonatal jaundice due to altered red blood cells.
- Increase the likelihood and incidence of birth trauma.
- Cause adverse behavioral effects in the baby.
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