Epidural and No Epidural Anesthesia: Differences Between Mothers and Their Experience of Birth


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ABSTRACT: Forty-five women who had epidural anesthesia and 44 women who had pudendal, local infiltration, or no medication for birth were interviewed and given questionnaires within 36 hours of birth. The epidural group were significantly younger. They scored significantly higher on scales measuring “Belief in Powerful Others,”“External Locus of Control,” and “Passive Compliance Versus Active Participation in Childbirth Care Decisions.” Women selecting no epidural mentioned safety as a concern significantly more often, and quotes from their interviews revealed more interest in reaching out to others for help during labor, and in making birth a special event. Epidurals were associated with significantly longer labors, more use of oxytocin augmentation, forceps deliveries, and markedly more postpartum bladder catheterizations.