Risks and Benefits of Obstetric Epidural Analgesia: A Review

Authors

  • Denise M. Avard Ph.D.,

    1. Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, The University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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  • Carl M. Nimrod M.B., F.R.C.S.(C)

    1. Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Calgary and Foothills Hospital, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
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Abstract

ABSTRACT: Based on a survey of the literature, this paper reviews the risks and benefits of epidural analgesia in normal healthy newborns and their mothers. Issues like effectiveness, maternal satisfaction, prolongation of labor, instrumental delivery and neurobehavioral effects are discussed. It seems that the slowing of labor and increased instrumental delivery are the main undesirable effects. Neonatal behavioral effects of epidural analgesia are unclear. Studies consistently show that epidurals are effective for pain relief during labor. Much remains to be learned about the specific neurobehavioral, psychological, and physiological effects of epidural analgesia.

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