What I said:
"As far as I am aware, the evidence as to an increase in risk (as to needing further interventions) from an epidural is very mixed and actually weighted towards it not being an issue."
What others are saying I said:
"and there is absolutely no risk elevation in your birthing, long term recovery, etc in getting an epidural."
You could drive a truck in between the difference of meaning of these two statements.
I understand there to be a general confounder with regard to studies of epidurals and their outcomes -- which is an abnormal labor, a labor with malpositioning, etc. is a more painful labor. So is the epidural the causation of the abnormal labor or is the mother seeking out the epidural a result of the abnormal labor? One book I read noted the results of the DOD's mandate in the 90's that epidurals would have to be available on demand at military hospitals. At the hospital studied, epidurals increased from @2% to @90% but c-section rates were unchanged as were instrument delivery rates.
I believe two Cochranes (from 2000 and 2005) also found that epidurals did not increase c-section rates.
The article "Epidural Analgesia for Labor and Delivery" by Joy L. Hawkins, New England Journal of Medicine, April 22, 2010 is also of interest on this point.
The recently published "Epidural Without Guilt" by Grant does helpfully lay out how epidurals have changed over time and the positives and negatives of epidurals.
I'm afraid I got a little cynical about the "evils" of epidurals because of all the hyperventilating about them amongst my friends who were perfectly willing to have a injection of painkiller as long as it was administered by a midwife at home -- even though an injected painkiller actually does hit the bloodstream (unlike an epidural) and has a much greater likelihood of impacting the baby. We also researched this quite a bit because my sister was looking at whether to have an epidural during the vaginal delivery of her twins so that she would be well positioned for an emergent c-section if needed. I basically discovered that the laundry list of terrible, horrible, no good things arising from epidurals that my midwife described were rather overblown.
As to the collegiality of the board formerly -- its amazing what a little censorship can do to make it seem like everyone is of one mindset isn't it?