On average, more women opt for an epidural than no pain medications. This fact probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to many of us. The CDC conducted a study in 2008 revealing that 61% of women receive an epidural or spinal anesthesia.
What’s more interesting is the what the data reveals when you break this statistic down further into different demographics.
For example, women under the age of 20 are more likely to have an epidural than those over 35 — 64% compared to 59%. Race also seems to be a factor, with non-Hispanic white women reporting the highest percentage of epidurals given, followed by black women.
Another surprising factor is that education level appears to play a huge role in a woman’s decision to get an epidural. Women with a PhD or Master’s degree are two times more likely to choose medicated birth than those who never finished high school.
Ultimately, much of the decision comes down to personal choice. It’s true that an epidural is an effective method of pain management during labor, but it does have some risks and side effects. A few of the most common risks are stalled labor, increased chance of intervention (either with forceps, vacuum or c-section), and fetal distress.
Typically, though, there are no serious complications for mom or baby when epidurals are used.
If you’re unsure whether or not to have a medicated or natural birth, we recommend talking to your doctor about the advantages of both to see what’s right for you. At All About Women, we want to make sure all of your pregnancy and delivery questions are answered. Make an appointment to talk to one of our pregnancy care physicians today.