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How Does An Epidural Affect You After Child Birth?

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For expectant moms, pain management is often one of the most important parts of the birth plan. While some women are adamant about giving birth without assistance, others swear by the epidural, vowing not to give birth without it. If you are planning to have an epidural during your labor, you may have wonder whether there are any side effects associated with the procedure and  how does an epidural affect you?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, epidurals are designed to block the nerve impulses to the lower spine, giving the mother pain relief rather than complete loss of feeling while she is in labor. The medication reduces the mother's discomfort through the labor process and allows her to be more relaxed and focused as she brings her baby into the world.

The American Pregnancy Association reported that more than 50 percent of women giving birth at hospitals use epidural anesthesia, making it a popular choice among expectant moms. But after giving birth, many women experience headaches, bruising, and urinary incontinence as a result of receiving the epidural.

Millions of women receive epidural anesthesia and deliver healthy babies each day. But whether or not an epidural is a part of your plan, it can be helpful to know the potential side effects in case your plans change in the process. Here are a few things you may experience after receiving and epidural.

1. You May Not Be Able To Control Your Pee

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When laboring with an epidural, the catheter in your bladder may result in an inability to control your urine. But what you may not know is that the incontinence can last for a few weeks postpartum. According to Today's Parent, a study in Denmark showed that 27 percent of women who had epidurals during their labor experience urinary incontinence in the first three months postpartum, versus 13 percent of women who experienced birth without an epidural.

2. Your Legs May Be Numb

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Once the epidural wears off, you still may need a little help moving around for a while. Some women experience numbness in their legs and feet, according to Today's Parent.

3. You May Itch

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Don't be surprised if you suddenly feel the uncontrollable urge to scratch after receiving your epidural. As mentioned on Baby Center, the narcotics included in the epidural may cause itching, especially in the face.

4. It May Be Hard To Breathe

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You may find it takes a little more effort to breathe after an epidural. In rare cases, mothers who receive epidurals experience difficulty breathing, coughing, and chest pains as a result of spinal nerve blockage, according to the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.

5. You May Bruise

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If you have an epidural, a new baby may not be the only thing you bring home with you from the hospital. According to WebMD, some women leave the hospital with soreness or bruising on their back in the area where the catheter was placed in your back to administer the medication.

6. You May Be Tired

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Because epidurals block sensation in the lower half of the mother's body, the labor process can often take longer than if she were laboring without the assistance of pain medication, according to the American Pregnancy Association. As a result, new moms can find themselves extremely tired when all is said and done. But who am I kidding? Pushing a seven-pound human out of your lady parts is tiring with or without drugs.

7. You May Have A Headache

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If you have an epidural during your labor, you might want to make sure you've got some pain medication on hand when it's all over. As mentioned on Baby Center, 1 in 100 women who've received an epidural report suffering from bad headaches for days as a result of leaking spinal fluid.