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News1996January › Epidurals follow on to forceps › January 1996

Epidurals follow on to forceps

Pregnant women given epidurals during labour are more likely to experience a forceps delivery even if they are given a less powerful anesthetic which would allow them to participate more

Pregnant women given epidurals during labour are more likely to experience a forceps delivery even if they are given a less powerful anesthetic which would allow them to participate more.

The problem is not with the women, but with the doctors, who immediately associate epidurals with intervention or with the general policy in the labour ward, say doctors from the Middlesex Hospital in London in a letter to The Lancet.

They have found very little difference in cases of intervention between women given the standard epidural and those given one of the newer generation containing lower concentrations of anesthetic.

Doctors immediately assume that an epidural means that motor skills of the woman are immediately blocked, but this is not the case with the low dose anesthetics, which are given locally and not in the spine (The Lancet, November 4, 1995).

The standard epidural, injected into the spine, is likely to cause low back pain after the birth, but it is usually short lived, new research has concluded.

Researchers from the Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Canada said that the pain was common, but was only likely to last for one day after the birth (BMJ, November 18, 1995).


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