If you've ever experienced the pain of childbirth, you know that epidurals can be absolute miracle workers. When administered properly, this popular form of anesthesia can turn birth from an utter nightmare into a manageable (even enjoyable) experience. But the unfortunate truth is, epidurals aren't always administered properly — and when they're not, moms and babies can experience serious complications. So what are some things that should not happen when you get an epidural?
If you've been keeping up on trending news, you might have heard the recent (horrifying) story of a mom who discovered that a portion of the needle used to give her an epidural was stuck in her spine for 14 years — 14 years! — after giving birth. Unsurprisingly, this poor woman suffered through over a decade of severe pain, and now she has permanent nerve damage (meaning her pain will likely never go away). Of course, this type of injury doesn't happen often, as Dr. James Lozada, Obstetric Anesthesiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, tells Romper.
“In general, it is extremely rare for a spinal or epidural needle to break, and even more rare for fragments to remain in the body," he says. "That has been reported less than 5 times in medical literature.”
“Labor epidurals have greatly improved the safety of obstetric care and provide excellent pain relief for millions of women each year. The chances of a broken needle being left in your back are exceedingly low and should not deter you from having an epidural if that’s your desire.”
Indeed, statistics show that epidurals are usually safe. A study analyzing data from the Anesthesia Quality Institute's National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry found that out of 80,000 women who received epidural or spinal anesthesia during childbirth, the rate of complications was just under 3 percent, reported WebMD.
So the majority of the time, it would seem, epidurals do what exactly they're supposed to do: Relieve pain without causing any significant adverse side effects. Still, there's always a risk that something could go wrong. Hopefully that won't be the case for you, but in the interest of preparing for anything and everything, these are some of the possible problems you might encounter.