Epidural Harm Baby?

Updated on August 24, 2010
P.W. asks from Fulton, CA
12 answers

Right now my SIL is giving birth, and I just got a call from my mother. Granted, the woman is often misinformed and should not be getting in the way in a delivery room, so I take her information with a bag of salt. Apparently the epidural caused the baby's heart rate to "go all funny." They are now taking her off for a c-section because the baby is too big. Have any of you ever heard of an epidural harming the baby?

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answers from Colorado Springs on

This is a classic epidural outcome. This is why the c-section rate is way too high in America. We have the worst stats in the Western world for labor/delivery. There's nothing anyone can do at this point, so really, it isn't worth discussing at this moment. Of course, if your SIL gives birth in the future, it would be helpful to know this info. But then again, most docs today do not allow a woman to deliver vaginally after a C-section anyway. I highly recommend the book, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. Lots of research involved. About half of the book is her bibliography and references for what she writes.

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answers from San Diego on

I planned on having a natural childbirth, but ended up getting an epidural, and ironically, the epidural likely saved me from a c-section. Go figure. Just goes to show nothing is black and white and in most cases an epidural does not harm the baby. It can increase the likelihood of a section because it can slow down labor, but in my case it did the exact opposite. My daughter was almost ten pounds and frankly, the midwife who said babies can't be too big is wrong. Babies can be too big, just not as often as we assume. I delivered vaginally. It can be done, but without modern medicine I'd be dead. My line probably would have been naturally selected out of existence a while ago. Not to promote, but I just did a podcast on this at http://www.overthinkingmom.com/

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answers from Houston on

an epidural doesnt really do anything but numb, its only good to reduce pain, and it can have ill effects in the delivery process. I've had a baby both ways, the difference in time in phenomenal. Dont want to feel it but want it to take forever---epidural, want to feel it but get them out quickly, no epidural.

but it sounds as if its too late to worry about what it might do,

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answers from Charlotte on

Page, I've never heard of an epidural harming the baby. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but I do know that an epideral CAN cause the mom's blood pressure to get too low. Maybe that's what caused the heart rate issue for the baby. That happened to me with my second baby. I still kept the epideral, but they couldn't give me enough meds in it to cover my bottom, just my stomach. But boy, that was plenty of relief, because contractions are a real BEAR in the middle section!

If the baby was too big, that probably means he wasn't progressing down the birth canal. If her BP was down, that's a danger sign for the baby as well. Good news is that they've got a port that can accept the medicine for her to have the C-section quickly by putting a spinal block before cutting into her. Otherwise, they'd have to just knock her out totally.

Women who have actual medical expertise from working in a hospital delivering babies know more than me about this. I would rather have expert advice answering this question than anecdotal stories, to be honest. I am still VERY grateful for both my epidurals. I just don't know how I would have gotten through labor without them.


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answers from Columbus on

Chances are that if the baby was too big, it was going to be too big epidural or no epidural...that is what cause the c-section, unless they insterted the epidural into the baby and pumped up the babies weight...really?

An epidural can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, that happend to me during one of my deliveries. They gave me a shot, and everything was fine. I would not give birth without one...no, I really mean it...I would not have given birth, because I was in hard labor, all three times, for hours, and dialated only to a 3, once the epidural was put in, I delivered within the hour...everyone is different. Epidural can actually help some women NOT have a c-section (x-3)

I would be taking her information with the whole shaker!


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answers from Austin on

I am a homebirth midwife and former NICU Respiratory Therapist. Yes, epidurals do cause harm and lots of unneccessary c-sections. The epidural gives the mother narcotic drugs, these do cross the placenta and enter the baby which can cause the baby's heart rate to drop. The epidural can also cause the mother's blood pressure to drop which will cause the baby's heart rate to drop. The baby probably is not "too big." This is the excuse the doctors use all the time to cover their a**.


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answers from St. Louis on

Epidurasl dont harm the baby, the only risks involved (rare at that) affect the mother, not the baby. A baby's heart rates changes often during labor with or without an epidural. Something else must have caused the csection. Your poor mom. I hope she isn't driving her daughter in law nuts. (I can say that because I have an over involved and somewhat confused mother myself... ha!)

Wouldn't give birth myself without one! I've had 2 and both are fine!

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answers from Phoenix on

Most of the time when I hear that someone had an epidural, they also say that they almost had to have a C-Section because of the heart rate. My guess (and I've asked this question a hundred times and thought it through a lot) that an epidural can cause the heart rate to become abnormal if it takes longer to deliver. It seems that if a mom can hold off and get one towards the end or if the labor isn't lasting extra long, that the epidural won't hurt the baby. I had spinals and epidurals with my C-Sections and the heart rate was fine. It was a fast delivery though. With my normal delivery, I didn't have an epidural, so it was fine. But if it the labor lasts and the mom has to get more of it or gets it too soon, it seems to effect babies. I may not know what I'm talking about but that's my two cents because I ask the same question every time I hear of this. Congratulations!!

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answers from Honolulu on


I have had epidurals and spinal blocks.
I have also had an emergency c-section with my first child, and a planned c-section with my 2nd child.
It was BOTH fine.

BOTH my kids, were big as babies too at birth.... over 8 pounds and 21-22" long.

An Anesthesia Doctor and the OB/GYN and the Nurses will be there and there is a TEAM of Doctors there... to monitor her/baby at all times. That is how mine was.

all the best,

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answers from Boston on

I don't medically know the answer to the question, but I think that part of the issue is the way it was asked (no offense). The epidural didn't harm the baby. Babies' heartrates go up and down all the time during labor and delivery, medicated or not. It's just that more often medicated moms are on heartrate monitoring. Doctors with more information available to them are more likely to do c-sections because they don't want to take any risks. That's all a dropped heartrate is, a risk. But even with the c-section, the baby wasn't "harmed" and hopefully both SIL and baby are happy and healthy very soon!

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answers from Phoenix on

My sister's heart rate dropped after she had an epidural with her first baby, therefore, the baby's heart rate dropped and they said they had to do an emergency c-section. Interesting to find out after though, her and the baby's heart rate recovered once she was wheeled into the O.R. but they still did a c-section in case further labor would 'cause more or further trauma'.

I have had epidurals with both of my babies and my blood preasure went cooky but my kids were both fine and unharmed.

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answers from San Francisco on

Laws would forbid from giving a mom and an unborn child something that would harm them so i think thats very unlikely

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