Baby Side Effects

Epidural anesthesia is "generally regarded as safe" (GRAS) by the FDA.  Though studies suggest that epidural agents don't harm the baby very much, there is no research proving that these anesthetic and narcotics don't harm the baby at all.  There has never been a drug proven conclusively to be safe for a baby in the womb.



Risks and/or Side Effects

How often this happens

Why is this a problem

What you can do

Fetal Distress, abnormal Fetal Heart Rate[39] [40]


·          Probably a secondary side effect of the epidural.  

·          Fetal distress most likely caused by drop in maternal blood pressure or an awkward maternal position.

·          Increases the likelihood of an operative delivery (forceps, vacuum, or cesarean section).

·          Get off your back or change positions immediately.

·          You may be given oxygen to help oxygenate your placental blood.

Drowsiness at birth, poor sucking reflex[41].[42]


·          Interferes with mother-baby bond immediately after birth.

·          Can be extremely frustrating for mothers trying to learn to breastfeed.  Mothers may be encouraged to formula feed newborns just to get “something” in the baby.

·          Remain with your baby.  Let your baby sleep at your breast or next to you in bed.  

·          Try talking, singing to your baby.

·          Refuse artificial nipples or supplemental formula.

Poor muscle strength and tone in the first hours[43] [44]


·          Greater chance baby and mother will be separated immediately after birth.  Baby may go to neonatal nursery for observation and oxygen.

·          May be caused by lack of adrenaline from mother.

·          Request that your baby stay in your room for all newborn procedures and observations, if policy allows.

·          You or your partner go with the baby to the nursery and ask to hold the baby during all newborn procedures and testing.



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