A popular pain relief method during labor and childbirth is an epidural. An epidural is an anesthesia that affects a regional area, whereas a general anesthesia affects the entire body. During an epidural, a small catheter is placed inside the epidural space. The epidural space is the area that surrounds the spinal cord. Once the catheter is properly inserted, medication is continuously administered through the tube in order to provide constant pain relief. While the chances of side effects are low, it is possible that a woman that has received an epidural experience at least one of the four common side effects associated with this type of pain relief.
Shivering, or a constant involuntary shaking, is one of the first side effects that a woman may experience after receiving an epidural. The origin is usually associated with the nerves located throughout the body and the changes the medication is making to their response to pain. Another cause to the shivering that accompanies an epidural is the amount of intravenous (IV) fluids that are pushed into the body before the start of the epidural. The fluids, which are often cooler than the body’s temperature, can cause the expectant mother to shake uncontrollably.
Ringing in the Ears
When the epidural needle and catheter is inserted into the lower back, certain nerves may be gently brushed or even cut. The area that the majority of epidural catheters are inserted in contains nerves associated with the ears. If the epidural process affects the area, the expectant mother may experience ringing in the ears. If this symptom occurs, she should notify the physician or anesthesiologist so adjustments can be made and this symptom is relieved.
A slight backache and soreness are common after the placement of an epidural since the anesthesiologist must push on the areas of the lower back and spine in order to find the correct placement for the epidural. The pain will usually feel similar to a bruise and will go away within a few days.
Nausea after an epidural can occur. The combination of the procedure itself, along with an empty stomach and the epidural being in the region that the nerves associated with the stomach are located can all cause an expectant mother to be overwhelmed with a nauseous feeling. The medication that is administered through the epidural catheter can also contribute to the nausea. Once the epidural is removed, this symptom should subside.