Epidural is linked to a reduction in serious complications after childbirth

Epidural is linked to a reduction in serious complications after childbirth
Epidural is linked to a reduction in serious complications after childbirth

The epidural helps prevent serious complications after childbirth, according to a new study. The American Centers for Control and Prevention identify 21 in total. For example, we are talking here about heart attack, heart failure, sepsis or even hysterectomy.

The conclusions mentioned at the start of the article are based on health data from 567,216 mothers in labor who gave birth vaginally or by unplanned cesarean section in Scotland between 2007 and 2019.

Epidural during childbirth: -35% serious complications

Of the 567,216 women, 125,024 (22%) used an epidural during childbirth and 4.3 births out of 1,000 were marked by a serious complication.

Epidural use was associated with a 35% reduction in the relative risk of serious complications after delivery among all women in the study. Greater reductions were seen in participants with a medical indication for epidural (50% risk reduction) compared to those without (33% risk reduction). Same dynamic among Scottish women giving birth before term (risk reduction of 47%) compared to those giving birth at term or after term (no evidence of a reduction in risk).

According to the authors of the survey, these figures concerning the benefits of the epidural can be explained by closer monitoring of the mother and child in this configuration, by the attenuation of physiological stress reactions during labor and through faster obstetric interventions when necessary.

Scientists conclude that “These results support the current practice of recommending epidurals to women with known risk factors.” They add that “our data highlights the importance of ensuring equitable access to epidurals.”

Although large in scope, their research has some limitations. For example, the study only looked at predominantly white women giving birth in Scotland, which may prevent the generalizability of its results.

Epidural during childbirth: a majority practice in France

In France, nearly 8 out of 10 women give birth with an epidural.

The epidural (or “epidural analgesia”) is a technique that relieves the painful sensation during childbirth. It acts locally by administering anesthetics, the dosage of which is adapted throughout childbirth.

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