Potential long-term side effects of an epidural include permanent nerve damage where the catheter was inserted, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Some studies also suggest that babies may have difficulty latching on during breastfeeding when their mothers' received an epidural during labor.
Additional potential long-term side effects when an epidural is administered during childbirth include bleeding around the spinal column, known as a hematoma, infections in the spine, such as an abscess or meningitis, and seizures, according to MedlinePlus.
Short-term side effects of an epidural often include drops in blood pressure, which can affect the baby's heart rate, and allergic reactions to the anesthesia, according to MedlinePlus. Patients may also experience ringing of the ears and nausea, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
During delivery, an epidural may affect one side of the mother's body more than the other, according to Mayo Clinic. Some women experience difficulty with breathing if the anesthesia affects the chest wall. Epidurals may temporarily block a woman's ability to empty her bladder, so a catheter may be necessary. In some cases, short-term fevers and skin irritation, such as itchiness, may occur. Severe headaches may affect women when sitting upright over the course of a few days following the birth of their children.