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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 May;186(5 Suppl Nature):S81-93.

Epidural analgesia side effects, co-interventions, and care of women during childbirth: a systematic review.

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Division of Nursing, School of Education, New York University, NY, USA.


The purpose of this article is to profile research findings targeting the intrapartum care implications of the most common side effects and co-interventions that go along with the use of epidural analgesia during labor. Randomized, controlled trials published in English from 1990 to 2000 that addressed each of the targeted side effects and 3 specified co-interventions were evaluated for inclusion in this report. Side effects such as pruritus, nausea, and hypotension during labor are common, but they are usually mild and necessitate treatment infrequently. However, even with the advent of newer low-dose epidurals, the extent of impaired motor ability remains variable across studies. The incidence of "walking" epidurals during labor is likely to be complicated by multiple factors, including individual patient desires, safety considerations, and hospital policies. In response to risks for a decrease in uterine contractions that could prolong labor, oxytocin augmentation is likely to be administered after epidural analgesia. The use of "delayed" pushing may be an effective way to minimize the risk for difficult deliveries. Upright positioning even when confined to bed may be advantageous and desirable to women; however, additional research to determine actual outcome benefits with epidurals is needed. Implications for further research linked to epidural analgesia also include informed consent, modification of caregiving procedures, and staffing/cost issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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