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EPIDURAL ANESTHESIA IN LABOR: Benefits Versus Risks

Authors

  • Tekoa King CNM, MPH

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    • Tekoa King is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California at San Francisco and faculty member of the Community-Based Nurse-Midwifery Education Program. Ms King received her BSN from the University of California at San Francisco, midwifery certificate from Georgetown University, and MPH in Maternal Child Health from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a member of an integrated faculty MD/CNM practice


Address correspondence to Tekoa King, CNM, MPH, University of California, San Francisco, 400 Parnassus Avenue Box 0346 San Francisco CA 94143–0346

Abstract

Epidural anesthesia is used for relief of labor pain by 29% of women having hospital deliveries in the United States, a number that has doubled within the past 10 years Although epidurals provide objective pain relief that is exponentially better than the other pain relief methods, there are many purported complications and side effects. This article reviews how epidurals work, summarizes the literature regarding complications, and presents some of the ethical dilemmas inherent in the use of this technology for labor.

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