Does using an epidural for pain relief in labor increase my chances for a cesarean section?
Recent studies show no increase in the cesarean section rate as a result of labor slowing down, and many obstetricians do not believe that any labor abnormalities occur with epidurals. However, some obstetricians continue to believe that epidural analgesia leads to an increase in the need for cesarean section because the progression of labor is slowed down. Additionally, some obstetricians think that epidurals might affect uterine contractions or pelvic muscle tone, which might result in the fetal position being less than ideal for vaginal delivery. At UNC, we use dilute solutions of local anesthetic; studies show that these dilute solutions do not affect labor. You should speak with your obstetrician about his or her beliefs and feelings about pain relief during childbirth.