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Why do so many women think that epidurals can make them paralyzed...where is the proof of this?

This seems like a dumb myth that I hear over and over again. "Ohhh, don't get an epidural, my mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, wifes, daughter had one, and now she is in a wheelchair". I am pregnant and planning on getting one, where is the proof that they cause spinal damage? I've also heard "you will have back problems for ever", well, cant carrying around a 25 pound pregnancy and then pushing out a 8 pound baby give you some minor back probs the rest of your life?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 12:07 PM on Sep. 22, 2009 in Pregnancy

Answers (16)
  • My anesthesiologist explained the risk of transient, partial, or full lower extremity paralysis during my consent process. He says that it happens, but is rare.

    Answer by girlneffy at 12:11 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • I'm not sure how true ALL the horror stories are but my bestfriend had an epidural and it wasn't done right. That has nothing to do with the epidural ITSELF but how it was placed. It was all messed up and the Dr.s were worried about her being paralyzed. I don't know how an epidural thats placed right can cause someone to be paralyzed. Google it and see.

    Answer by Katrina3016 at 12:13 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • It does happen sometimes, but it's super rare. The risks of epidural mostly include lowered blood pressure, fetal distress, decreased pushing sensation (obviously), low motility (obviously), spinal headache after the epidural is removed, lower sucking reflex and sleepiness in the newborn etc etc... the really serious stuff is super rare.

    I recommend knowing how to cope with labor pain anyway, even though you're planning an epi. 15% of women don't get complete pain relief with an epidural.

    Answer by Ati_13 at 12:15 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • It happens but its VERY VERY rare. Kind of like dying when you get your tonsils taken out. Some women do have back problems as a result, but thats not all that common either. I personally have had 2 epidurals, and am very happy with the results. I plan on another when this baby is born in the next few weeks. There are all kinds of horror stories out there, things get exaggerated to make rare instance seem the norm and make not so bad stuff seem like the worst thing ever. Don't worry about what "they" say, do what you feel is right for you...and tell "they" to kiss it.


    Answer by abbynzachsmommy at 12:25 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • LOL
    If you want, you can Google 'Epidural Risks,' there are quite a few.
    While some/most might be rare, they can be serious. I have seen many moms complain, but my knowledge is anecdotal.

    And a woman's body is designed to create and deliver babies~ like other animals. It's made to "withstand" pregnancy and birth. The epidural is not in Nature's design.

    Many modern women are not familiar with how to tune-in and pain-cope, so they assume that drugs are the solution. With help, women can become confident and discover they don't need drugs and can enjoy birth: Win-Win! :-)

    Answer by doulala at 12:34 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • It is a legitimate fear. It does happen, but not very often. There is a slight risk, so you do have to decide if you are willing to take the risk or not. You are also right that pregnancy and birth can also result in lingering health issues.

    I do personally know one person that had a problem with her epidural. She ended up back in the hospital with temporary paralysis a few days after her baby was born, which left her husband at home alone with a newborn and no family around to help (military family). She was fine after a couple of weeks, but it was a very scary experience for her. I know many more people who did not have problems.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:42 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • I had an epidural with my first baby, and now my back goes out every once in a while, mainly sharp stabbing pains where they injected me. The next birth I had was completely natural, and I healed so much faster, but that is probably since they really pushed me to have my baby the first time. A friend of mine actually had the needle break off in her spinal column and it is still there! IDK, the pain is well worth it, try natural if you can!

    Answer by littlestchef at 12:52 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • OP - ITA with you. Get one if you want it.

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:00 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • The possibility of something going wrong is so very rare! I've had an epidural with three of my kids and have never noticed any back pain or any problems at all - they were wonderful and actually speeded up my labor because I was able to relax instead of being in pain.

    Answer by missanc at 1:30 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

  • There are risks in everything. Even "natural" childbirth can kill you. These stories are true, but rarely happen. Everything tends to get blown out of proportion (swine flu for example) so do your research and talk with your doctor. Make the decision that is best for you and ignore everyone else's opinion. Unless of course you trust them with your life. ( I would hope the doctor delivering you has this trust because it's not just your life it's your baby's life as well) I've been fortunate enough to deliver natural (no drugs that almost did cost me my life), with induction, with epidural, and by c-section. No problems here.

    Answer by 2autisticsmom at 2:28 PM on Sep. 22, 2009

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