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Health & Pregnancy

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Epidurals Appear Safe in Early Labor

Study Says Early Epidurals Do Not Lead to Need for C-Sections

No Need to Suffer

"I hope this makes physicians more comfortable with the idea that it is OK to give an epidural when a woman asks for pain relief early in labor without worrying that it will adversely affect the outcome," Wong says.

She offered one caveat, however. The women in the study received epidurals designed to maximize pain relief while minimizing muscle impairment. It is not clear if early treatment outcomes would be as good in women who receive traditional epidurals that result in more numbness and greater muscle impairment.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Camann wrote that the findings make it clear that early epidural pain relief is a safe and effective option for women who choose to have medication.

"But that doesn't mean that we are advocating epidurals for everyone," he tells WebMD. "Women should be allowed to make the choice that is best for them. Some will choose to have epidurals and others won't. Either decision should be supported."

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