The case against Epidurals... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No, I am not thinking about having one.. I am just curious why they are BAD. I honestly did not have them for fear of that they may do to ME in the after effects. My mom tried to have one with my sister. (she was 41 and having a c-sec, and the epi wouldnt work. The pain that woman went through for weeks afterwards warded me off FOREVER) but i keep getting mixed info about how they are bad for the BABY. Now I have been told that nubain isnt AS bad, (nothing is best.) but the epi is way worse? How so? I dont understand and its finally driven me batty trying to get a No Bias No Bull answer. TIA!
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#2 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 01:36 PM
 
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Here are a few reasons off the top of my head: Epidurals require the mother to be confined to bed with tubes in practically every orifice, and to labor and push the baby out on her back or in stirrups, which is known to be less than optimal for the integrity of the perineum (to put it mildly); depending on the cocktail of drugs used and the reaction of the mother/baby to the drugs they can interfere with the breastfeeding relationship; they can make it very difficult to push the baby out; they sometimes slow labor, which lead to the use of pitocin to augment labor, which leads to fetal heart decelerations, which leads to more interventions. . . you can use your imagination from there.

I personally have experienced the cascade of interventions that I described above. I know that sometimes epidurals are needed, but there are many things you can do to avoid epidural anesthesia and the cascade of interventions that often follows. Having a supportive, trained labor assistant can make all the difference!

I recommend reading "Pushed" by Jennifer Block and "The Thinking Woman's Guide To a Better Birth" by Henci Goer. Block has some great quotes in her book by a British midwife about epidural anesthesia and why she believes it's so pervasive.

And above all, I recommend hiring a doula!!!

Best wishes,
Jen

eta: not to mention the fact that the top of my legs from my waist to my knees was numb for six months after my epi. . . gotta wonder what THAT was about! My grief.

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#3 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 02:04 PM
 
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I'd take an epidural if I had to, say if I couldn't progress until I got some rest after laboring for a few days on end. No way I'd really want to go for it, though I understand those who do (well, in the midst of labor last time I said I understood them anyway).

Epidurals have to go in the spine, could possibly give meningitis a route in, could possibly paralyze you. Could give back pain for months after. Headaches afterward. The drugs can lower your BP dangerously. Some gets to the baby, though not as badly as narcotics. It can slow or stop labor progress. Could lead to fetal distress. You're stuck in bed. You'd probably need a catheter to urinate. They take a while to wear off, if you have it in effect in 2nd stage your body isn't giving pushing signals to you so well.

And those "take the edge off" injections or drips of narcotics are no better, they can slow your digestion and make you vomit, make you feel drunk or out of control, affect the baby a lot esp if given less than 4 hours prior to birth. Affected babies could have trouble breathing and trouble nursing. Sometimes they can lead to fetal distress too.

Any pain meds will mess with your normal hormonal responses to labor, decreasing your natural oxytocin and your endorphins. It's feeling the sensations of labor that bring on the higher doses that keep things moving along and make sure you can handle it.
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#4 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 03:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by JamieCatheryn View Post
Any pain meds will mess with your normal hormonal responses to labor, decreasing your natural oxytocin and your endorphins. It's feeling the sensations of labor that bring on the higher doses that keep things moving along and make sure you can handle it.
Yup. Synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin) doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier, so it doesn't lead to that release of the "love hormone" (Oxytocin) or the release of endorphins the way the natural process would.

You've already gotten a great rundown on the effects of epidural on the Mom. In addition, the idea of being paralyzed from the waist down & thus out of control of my own birth experience was, for me, more horrifying than any physical pain. I didn't want to feel controlled by docs & trapped in the bed.

But back to your original Q on effects of the baby... I think some of the drugs do get to the baby, but there is very little, if any, research that outlines ill effects. I'm pretty sure Henci Goer wrote that there was only ever antecdotal evidence that babies had a harder time nursing... no actual science saying that. I don't think there have been any long term studies on the effects to the baby.

Not sure on the effects of the narcotics. I never read up because I never considered them because they make me nauseous & I find nausea more unpleasant than pain anyway.
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#5 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 03:47 PM
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#6 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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I kept asking DH if I had a gaping hole in my back for weeks, very unsettling.

Liz

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#7 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 05:39 PM
 
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Because the drugs stay in your child for at least TWO WEEKS after birth and we have no idea of the long term side effects of the epidural. It not only affects you, but the baby as well.

I'm convinced my DD was not interested in nursing right after birth due to the epidural/ pitocin- too sleepy, etc.... (we struggled A LOT at first, but eventually overcame and had a successful breastfeeding relationship) BUT after my natural birth with DS- he nursed like a champ from the start.

Good luck, Mama.
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#8 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 05:44 PM
 
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I'm convinced my DD was not interested in nursing right after birth due to the epidural/ pitocin- too sleepy, etc....
I had a total, completely natural birth. The only "interference" is that the MW had me push lying on my left side vs. hands & knees b/c DS' HR was dropping to about 70's.

He had NO interest in BFing at birth. He wasn't super sleepy - he did look around, but he wouldn't open his mouth. He was born at 6:50 PM & I'm pretty sure it wasn't until after midnight that he latched on for the first time. I was all alone & it was the weirdest experience! Like, wow, huh, this works!

I mentioned this to a newly-trained doula friend of mine. She asked if DS was late because she said she's heard of that happening with post-dates babies. He was 41W4d - approaching "late" although not officially "post-dates" (42W), but close.
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#9 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 05:48 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MegBoz View Post
I mentioned this to a newly-trained doula friend of mine. She asked if DS was late because she said she's heard of that happening with post-dates babies. He was 41W4d - approaching "late" although not officially "post-dates" (42W), but close.
My DD wasn't late though....a bit early actually. That is interesting though.
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#10 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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My DD wasn't late though....a bit early actually. That is interesting though.
I have actually heard the opposite, that early babies (like yours Naomi'sMommy) are more sleepy and don't nurse as much. I think there are a lot of variations of normal for the first day and BF'ing.

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#11 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 08:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MegBoz View Post
I mentioned this to a newly-trained doula friend of mine. She asked if DS was late because she said she's heard of that happening with post-dates babies. He was 41W4d - approaching "late" although not officially "post-dates" (42W), but close.
All my babies were post dates and all latched on right after birth. Even the epidural one.

Op: One of the side effects of epidural can be increase in body temp, which looks like a fever. They treat it as such and will monitor the baby afterwards as well for infection.

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#12 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 08:34 PM
 
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Mostly to play the Devil's Advocate here, I had heard all the horror stories about an epi and I was terrified to get one. But I labored for days, I had a cramp in my groin and could not rest between contractions, I was screaming... you get the picture.

I chose the epi and was able to rest, finish dilating and push her out. without it I would have had to have an emergency C-section, it was that bad.

The epi had NO adverse side effects on either me or the baby. If you have to have one, don't get too scared, it just makes a bad situation worse.

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#13 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 08:45 PM
 
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The site where the epi was inserted ACHED for almost a year after DD was born via c/s. I'd easily trade few hours of intense pain for that!

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#14 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 08:52 PM
 
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There was a study the teacher of my birth class showed us where babies who had unmedicated births were able, within an hour of birth, when no one removed them from their mothers and they were immediately put on her belly, to crawl/creep up, find the nipple on their own, latch on and nurse. In the group of babies where moms had drugs of any kind (even epidurals) the babies could not do it. So there is some effect on breastfeeding.

As for me, I had one for my first after being on pit for 3 hours (which was worse than my natural birth with #2) and I STILL have pain in the epidural site on occassion, nearly 4 1/2 years later. It tends to get worse when I'm pregnant. The other night it kept me up for a half hour.

That being said, if it was epidural because I was exhausted due to a long labor and there was no way I'd get the baby out otherwise, at that point the benefit (vaginal birth over c/s) would outweigh the risks in my book. But getting one solely for pain relief is something I would never choose.

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#15 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 08:52 PM
 
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Another Devil's Advocate.

Three inductions, three epidurals. In fact, with the third, I had the epidural in and going before my water was broken and Pit was started.

I felt pressure with all three to know when I was ready to push. (In fact, I was the one calling in the midwives in all three cases because I could feel the pressure. Not pain, pressure.) I pushed 15 minutes with the first, not at all with the second (she came out on her own with the contractions, which was pretty cool), and two pushes with the third. Got a "skid mark" with the first two, nothing with the third.

All three babies had Apgars of 9 and 10. All three latched on immediately and breastfeeding was established well. I was up and walking within 10 minutes of delivery with all three.

Baby #1 was born at 41 weeks, and I was GBS+ with her. She was a Cervidil/Pit induction, and I was given Ambien after the Cervidil. Three hours of actual labor.

Baby #2 was 39 and some change, and I had gestational diabetes with her. Cytotec (oral)/Pit induction. If I remember correctly, it was only a few hours of actual labor. (I was admitted at 7am, Cytotec a few hours later, Pit MUCH later, baby before midnight.)

Baby #3 was 38 weeks. Pit only, and ARM. Actual labor = 1 hour.

I had no side effects from any of the epidurals.

Not saying it works this way for everyone, just sharing my experiences.

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#16 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 08:54 PM
 
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My epi site hurt for about a year...just felt like a nickel sized bruise. Other than that- I really didn't experience other negatives. DD nursed about an hour after birth and was a champ nurser. My milk came in on day four, and I woke up to soaked sheets.
DD was very sleepy on her 3rd, 4th, and 5th day but she had a HORRIBLE case of jaundice (her biliruben was 28!!!) from being born almost 5 weeks early.
I labored for 6 hours with pitocin before I caved for the epi, I think next time it will be easier NOT to have the epi.
In general I don't see them as horrible.

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#17 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 10:11 PM
 
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I had a friend die as a direct result of her epidural. You sign a waiver before-hand saying you could die or be paralyzed, so her husband couldn't sue or anything. It was horrible though. That started me on my path to discover Natural Childbirth.

I had an epi with my son. It slowed my labor, leading the nurses to ask me if they could start Pit. I told them yes. The Pit was too much for my son though, and it put him in distress. That lead to the doctor putting an internal monitor on him ...3 small screws were placed in his skull. Yes, you read that correctly ...he had 3 small screw holes in his head upon birth. It still makes me sad, and I do blame the interventions starting with the epi.

My daughter was born med-free ..no holes in her head or in my body. We used water for the labor pains, and it helped me as much as the epi did with my son. I'd do it that way again in a heartbeat ....the epi way, not so much.
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#18 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 10:38 PM
 
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I had an ok epidural experience. I planned a HB, but after a VERY long labor and little progress and some back tracking I decided to transfer for a sleeping pill and some pitocin. I just wanted to make the labor GO, I couldn't sleep and I was never going to be able to push at that rate. So I transferred after 36 hours. I was having contractions with triple peaks, some of which lasting 3 minutes long. I also had contractions that just peaked off the monitor and lasted 3 minutes.

I got to the hospital and I had contigent care with the midwives there. They gave me my options, I hashed them out and chose a sleeping pill and then some pitocin if my nap didn't help. I then proceeded to have a muscle spasm with a contraction that lasted 3 minutes and made the L&D nurse just STARE at the screen with a dropped jaw. I then proceeded to scream I wanted my effing epidural. They got me some Stadol, then I had the Epi, which was a light epi, then I started the pit. I fell asleep for 2 hours, woke up, threw up, water broke, epi wore off, got shut off and had a great vaginal birth, I was allowed to move and push in any position. While I pushed they fed me popsicles in between.

It only took me 30 minutes and I felt ALL of the crowning.

I did have back pain and a hard time standing for long periods of time for the first 2 months after birth. I am not sure that was the epidural. I honestly believe without my epi I would have not had a vaginal birth. I also had a hard time bfing (due to numerous issues). Not sure if that was related.

But I hope to go completely natural this time, I plan to have support in the areas that I needed it last time. But all labors are different and I will judge at the time what I need to do.

I do want to add that my HB MW remarked that she had not been to many births where mom had any type of epidural and was allowed to move the way I did. I pushed on the toilet, standing with support, squatting with the bar, semi squatting with bed support with feet ON the bar (which is how I delivered). I did have an intact perineum, but my MW massaged the dickens out of it with a BUCKET of oil during crowning.
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#19 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 10:43 PM
 
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There was a study the teacher of my birth class showed us where babies who had unmedicated births were able, within an hour of birth, when no one removed them from their mothers and they were immediately put on her belly, to crawl/creep up, find the nipple on their own, latch on and nurse. In the group of babies where moms had drugs of any kind (even epidurals) the babies could not do it. So there is some effect on breastfeeding.
I saw that too, it was fascinating!!!

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#20 of 92 Old 03-26-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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I had 2 great experiences with epidurals (my first one was not so great because my baby was posterior and the back pain was excrutiating even with drugs) and both of those babies have been great nursers from moments after birth. With my most recent baby I had an epidural, IV Pitocin and even *gasp!* Cytotec. I would totes do it again too because I felt great during labor and had no trouble at all pushing my baby out and he was 8 lbs.

On the other hand, I would never get IV meds because they do get to the baby and affect them, which I saw with my first son when I was trying to avoid getting the epidural. He was impossible to nurse for many hours after he was born and was extremely sleepy and uncoordinated.
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#21 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 12:21 PM
 
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babies who had unmedicated births were able, within an hour of birth, when no one removed them from their mothers and they were immediately put on her belly, to crawl/creep up, find the nipple on their own, latch on and nurse.
I think I read this is traditional in Sweden. Someone theorized that maybe our aerolas are darker to help baby FIND the nipple. But it honestly baffles me. Newborns can't hold up their own heads! How do they manage to crawl to the nipple & latch on???

During his first few weeks of life, I tried having DS on my chest & letting him latch himself on a few times - never worked. Even now at over 8 mos, he still isn't really crawling. So I have a hard time imaging this.
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#22 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 01:10 PM
 
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#23 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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My medicated (epidural) babies could've done the breast crawl. Especially #2. She was just so impressive with how desperately she wanted the breast. It was as if she'd been starving the whole gestation (and if fact she wasn't growing anymore in me) She still nursing like a maniac at almost 3!

Anyway, I'd try again next time (goodness forbid there be a next time) to not have an epidural but not feel bad if I did. My experience has been that I don't dilate well without them.
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#24 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 05:25 PM
 
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I had none of the negative side effects of an epi, except that I'm pretty sure it slowed my labor by a few hours but I hated every freaking min of it. I labored 10 hours w/ a straight pit induction and had the epi for 3 hours. I hated the 3 epi hours worse than the 10.

I literally felt tied down. I was helpless and need my mom or dh to help me even shift position. I was terrified of moving wrong and ripping either the eip or the internal monitors out. And worst of all I felt completely out of control of my own body and disconnected from the lower half of it.

After being convinced that I needed to press the button to up the dose to make me feel better (it didn't) I had them turn it down enough so that thankfully I could feel enough of the contractions to be able to push effectively. Though I think I would have torn less had I been able to feel better and follow the urge to push.

Just my personal experience with a "good" epi.

Kristy, wife to Josh proud mama to Katie: since 3/08 and Emma since 8/12.

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#25 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 05:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DahliaRW View Post
There was a study the teacher of my birth class showed us where babies who had unmedicated births were able, within an hour of birth, when no one removed them from their mothers and they were immediately put on her belly, to crawl/creep up, find the nipple on their own, latch on and nurse. In the group of babies where moms had drugs of any kind (even epidurals) the babies could not do it. So there is some effect on breastfeeding.
I didn't have an epidural with my 2nd baby and about 2 minutes after she was born, I pushed her toward my boob, she picked her head up, opened her mouth and latched right on! It was the most amazing thing ever! My doula was also a LLL leader and was total amazed b/c she hadn't seen that before (heard about it but hadn't seen it!). I was so happy to have a LLL leader there to help me get breastfeeding started well but I needed absolutely no help!

My c-section baby (c-section for ftp following the usual cascade of interventions) did get latched and we successfully breastfed for years but it was much more difficult.

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Originally Posted by ShwarmaQueen View Post
The site where the epi was inserted ACHED for almost a year after DD was born via c/s. I'd easily trade few hours of intense pain for that!
It's been 4 years and I still wake up every day with back pain.... I know epidurals don't always cause problems and there is a time and a place for them (like when a mom really needs to rest or isn't coping well) but I knew the 2nd time that I would just deal with whatever pain b/c the 6 weeks of physical therapy and various other pain relieving things I've done over the years, just aren't worth the couple hours of pain free labor for me.

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#26 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 07:20 PM
 
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It's been 4 years and I still wake up every day with back pain....
I know the rate of complications from epi's must be higher than the docs lead us to believe. I've met several ppl IRL who've also had complications. They really owe it to the public to make a stronger warning about them...instead most believe there's little risk of complications. :

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#27 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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I had an epi after a pit induction with #1. Pitocin is straight from hell if you asked me and that epi saved me.(note: not that I could have, but with my homebirth, I never even thought about it--natural is no where NEAR the pain of pit IMO)

Anyway, I personally had no side effects from the epi, but I blame my totally drugged up baby to all the meds. She slept so hard--I literally could not wake her up when she had slept 6-7 hours. When she did eventually stir, she would go back to sleep after 5-10 minutes of nursing....try as I might I could not keep her awake to nurse more. I had lactation consultants at my house and I sought them out because she had almost no suck--she just had no energy...she was otherwise a healthy, full-term baby.

When my son was born he latched onto my boob shortly after my placenta came out and nursed a good long while before falling asleep. It was amazing.

Although I can't prove it, I 100% blame the drugged birth to my rough start with dd. It lasted about 2 weeks.

Sarah

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#28 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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I had an epidural with my first and felt like I had a bruise and an ache in my back in that spot for at least a year. I kept asking my husband to check for a big bruise but he could never see one. My son also had low blood sugar from it and I could not get him to nurse again fast enough so they gave him a little formula to get it up. He threw up from the time they fed him the formula well into the next day. The IV fluids come with the epidural and I was super bloated all over for a few days afterwards. I looked fatter after I had him than I did when I left for the hospital. He did nurse after he cleared his system of that nasty stuff but I really felt like if I had not had the epi. we could have avoided a lot of pains. Needless to say, with my second I went to a birth center and had a completely natural birth with no interventions and no ill side effects.
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#29 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 08:19 PM
 
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Just chiming in to say I'm glad there are good epi experiences, and not every baby reacts the same, but as a nursery RN, more often (read, not all) babies of epidurals have a harder time waking up to nurse. It seems to be related to the length of time the epidural was in; ie, the longer the epidural was in, the sleepier the baby. Its just our observation, and there are always exception to this.

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#30 of 92 Old 03-27-2009, 09:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by by-the-lake View Post
Just babies of epidurals have a harder time waking up to nurse..
thanks! I guess it wasn't just my hypothesis!

Sarah

Mama to girl (11), boy (7) and girl (4).  "Can't we all just get along?" joy.gif
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