More on Tattoos and Epidurals
I had a bit of information I couldn’t quite fit into my recent post at OBOS on recent discussion of whether women with lower back tattoos can safely get epidurals during childbirth:
A case report of three women receiving such an epidural was published in 2002. In two of the cases, the tattoo was avoided entirely – the epidural injection was done through the tattooed area in the third case, but no complications were reported. Another case, mentioned in a letter to the editor of a medical journal in 2004, describes “the first report of a minor anesthesia complication resulting from epidural needle insertion through tattoos.” In that case, tenderness and burning was experienced at the injection site, but it resolved within twenty-four hours.
So what do we actually have on the topic, despite recent media coverage? No big studies. No conclusive evidence. Case reports of three women, only one of whom had any complications, which were thought but not proven to be possibly related to the epidural. Tenderness and burning at the site where a needle has gone into the spinal space? I’ll hold out for more solid and serious complications before worrying about this one. Insert your own “The Sound and the Fury” reference here.
In the comments of my previous post on the topic, Cyndi and Labor Nurse that they’ve never experienced lower back tattoos as a problem in any of the births they’ve attended. So where does that leave us? I’ll reiterate from OBOS:
“…it makes way for the supposedly sexually available woman with a “tramp stamp” (a common term for such tattoos) to be punished with the pain of childbirth. Meanwhile, it distracts from ongoing conversations about the state of birth today, and how women can best receive safe, effective, and satisfying maternity care.”
The Chicago Sun-Times actually referred to it as “the revenge of the tramp stamp.” If that doesn’t suggest a mocking ha-ha about those slutty women having to endure pain because of their behavior, I don’t know what does.