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Relieving Side Effects from an Epidural

"Having an epidural took away my pain, but I was surprised to get major shakes and teeth-chattering during labor," says Lisa Bain of Rockville Centre, NY. An epidural can cause shaking, as well as itching and headaches, according to David Birnbach, M.D., director of obstetrics anesthesiology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, in New York City.

To relieve these side effects:

Trembling (which affects 50 percent of all laboring women). Ask your labor nurse for blankets, a heating pad, or a hot-water bottle.

Itching (which affects nearly half of women who get a "walking" epidural). Wait -- it's usually mild and goes away on its own. If it doesn't, your doctor may recommend medication, such as naloxone.

Headache (which occurs less than one percent of the time). Rest on your back or drink a caffeinated beverage. If it persists for more than 24 hours, talk to your doctor.

Thanks to reduced dosages of pain medication and better needles, side effects are milder and less common than before. But if the risk of any makes you nervous, discuss other pain-relief options with your ob before your due date.

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