What is this?

A drug that is composed of a mix of painkillers that is normally injected into your back that is meant to dull the pain of childbirth.



  • 12% of epidurals don’t work1
  • 15-20% chance of developing a fever
  • 23% of women have complications2
  • 15-35% chance that the mother won’t be able to urinate for a time
  • at least 2 times greater chance of a C-section3
  • 3 times more chance of the mother could die
  • less satisfied with the birth4–9
  • increase chance of interventions
  • can cause drop in blood pressure in mother
  • more likely to be given to younger women4
  • more likely to be given to women who are passive in decision-making4


  • can put baby at risk
  • can cause mild-severe lack of oxygen to the baby
  • can cause drop of blood flow through the placenta
  • can cause brain damage to baby
  • 3of 4 babies will have episodes of slowing heart rate/fetal distress
  • 8-12% the fetal heart monitor will show a lack of oxygen in baby
  • increase risk that baby will have poor neurological function at one month
  • increase the chance that the baby will be addicted to drugs in adulthood10

back pain

  • 30-40% of women will have severe back pain after the birth
  • 1/3 women will have back pain for days to months after the birth
  • 20% of women will have severe back pain a year later


  • 1 out of 500 women is paralyzed for hours to days
  • 1 out of 500,000 women paralysis is permanent
Pan P, Bogard T, Owen M. Incidence and characteristics of failures in obstetric neuraxial analgesia and anesthesia: a retrospective analysis of 19,259 deliveries. Int J Obstet Anesth. 2004;13(4):227-233. [PubMed]
Webb RJ, Kantor GSA. Obstetrical epidural anaesthesia in a rural Canadian hospital. C. 1992;39(4):390-393. doi:10.1007/bf03009052
Thorp JA, Hu DH, Albin RM, et al. The effect of intrapartum epidural analgesia on nulliparous labor: A randomized, controlled, prospective trial. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1993;169(4):851-858. doi:10.1016/0002-9378(93)90015-b
Poore M, Foster JC. Epidural and No Epidural Anesthesia: Differences Between Mothers and Their Experience of Birth. Birth. 1985;12(4):205-212. doi:10.1111/j.1523-536x.1985.tb00977.x
Bennett A, Hewson D, Booker E, Holliday S. Antenatal Preparation and Labor Support in Relation to Birth Outcomes. Birth. 1985;12(1):9-16. doi:10.1111/j.1523-536x.1985.tb00924.x
Slavazza KL, Mercer RT, Marut JS, Shnider SM. Anesthesia, Analgesia for Vaginal Childbirth. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing. 1985;14(4):321-329. doi:10.1111/j.1552-6909.1985.tb02250.x
Slavazza K, Mercer R, Marut J, Shnider S. Anesthesia, analgesia for vaginal childbirth. Differences in maternal perceptions. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1985;14(4):321-329. [PubMed]
Oakley A. Social Consequences of Obstetric Technology: the Importance of Measuring “Soft” Outcomes. B. 1983;10(2):99-108. doi:10.1111/j.1523-536x.1983.tb01408.x
MERCER RT, HACKLEY KC, BOSTROM AG. Relationship of Psychosocial and Perinatal Variables to Perception of Childbirth. N. 1983;32(4):202???207. doi:10.1097/00006199-198307000-00004
Jacobson B, Nyberg K, Gronbladh L, Eklund G, Bygdeman M, Rydberg U. Opiate addiction in adult offspring through possible imprinting after obstetric treatment. BMJ. 1990;301(6760):1067-1070. doi:10.1136/bmj.301.6760.1067