If you are expecting to welcome a new baby into your family, you are probably looking forward to holding your son or daughter for the first time. You probably are not, however, ready for the discomfort that comes with labor. Fortunately, modern medicine offers anesthesia to help mitigate your pain.

According to Stanford University, more than 70% of pregnant women in the U.S. opt for epidurals during childbirth. While epidurals are overwhelmingly safe, your epidural may put you in danger of suffering a catastrophic injury.

How do epidurals work?

An epidural is an anesthetic injection that blocks pain signals from reaching your brain. When you have an epidural, a physician temporarily puts a needle into your spine. Then, an anesthetic flows into the fluid that surrounds your spinal cord.

Your doctor should talk to you about the risks of epidurals, but you may be able to request one for either a vaginal birth or a cesarean section. Furthermore, depending on the nature of your delivery and the epidural itself, you may experience some pain or none at all.

How can epidurals cause physical injuries?

Like all types of anesthesia, epidurals come with some risks. For many pregnant women, the biggest risk is usually paralysis. Because the epidural injection is near your spinal cord, you may sustain a spinal cord or nerve injury. Regrettably, the paralysis that comes with spinal cord damage may be permanent.

Just as an epidural may put your physical health in danger, your baby also may be vulnerable to epidural-related injuries. Ultimately, if either you or your newborn baby suffers some type of injury due to an epidural, you may be eligible for substantial financial compensation.