to wonder, where the move towards 'epidurals are wimping out' ideas come from?

(215 Posts)
Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 21:30:57

I very strongly believe that every woman should be encouraged and supported to have the birth that they want, whatever they want to do.

But I've noticed over the past few years - anecdotally, on places like MN - that there is this background belief from some women that other women who have an epidural are somehow 'giving up' or 'not woman enough to cope' or 'not embracing a natural pain'.

Now I really don't care how people give birth, as long as they've been supported by their healthcare professionals to achieve what they want, because all that matters is that the mum and baby are both well. I understand the cascade of intervention that an epidural may bring, and that a pain relief free vaginal birth is probably, on the balance of things, better for both the mum and the baby as long as everything is going well.

But I can't help but wonder how or where the natural birth push has morphed into some people being so anti-epidural for other women, into the sort of judgement that someone women seem to embrace at the moment?

VodkaJelly Fri 23-Aug-13 21:36:36

I had 3 sons and didnt have an epidural with any of them. And they all bloody hurt.

DD was born in January and the birth didnt go well. I fucking BEGGED for an epidural, begged. I was off my head with the pain. And fuck me, it was brilliant. No pain, nothing. Cant believe I never had one before.

I was that delirious with the pain at the time I never even felt the needle.

Epidurals rock.

TheProjectManager Fri 23-Aug-13 21:36:55

It's the NCT conspiracy .... Out of 6 in my NCT group we all had epidurals and one had an EMCS - we all felt a nagging sense of failure even though we all were lucky enough to have had perfectly healthy babies .... Go figure .... Women in other countries would give anything to have them on hand like we do but we're made to feel guilty - it's nuts

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Fri 23-Aug-13 21:37:42

I think whether or not you have an epidural depends on lots of factors. I did not have one because I viewed it too risky. No way would I let someone near my spine plus I really did not want to increase my chances of an assisted delivery. Lots of people would consider me a worried when it comes to medical things though and are far more relaxed than me. It is each to their own. It is ridiculous to view an epidural as wimping out. I am scared of them! That makes me more of a wimp.

gordyslovesheep Fri 23-Aug-13 21:38:18

I had no epidural with DD1 - 36 hrs and a section in the end - they wouldn't let me have one because I had an infection ? never worked that out

damn right I had one with the other two grin

it's not wimping out - I don't see the need to be in constant pain for over 2 days - it's exhausting

meditrina Fri 23-Aug-13 21:40:08

I must read different threads on MN - the ones I recall are supportive of all types of birth.

What is sadder is the phrase "as long as the mother and baby are bight well". Because in some cases the baby is stillborn, and that phrase diminishes the birth experience of those women

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 21:40:17

It is nuts. It really doesn't matter. When DD was first born and I was still in that new mum haze, talking labours with other mums, I came across a few women with very strong opinions and felt I had to justify myself for having an epidural - "no, no, it wasn't the pain, it was the long labour".

I don't know if it is entirely the NCT but... the media seems to focus on it a lot. Maybe its just that. Maybe its the proliferation of sites like MN where so many women can share their stories and experiences and beliefs that has actually encouraged it?

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 21:43:40

Yes, meditrina, you're right, and apologies for saying that.

There was a thread a few weeks ago that had a lot of posters on it who were very much of the opinion that hard work and focus was all it took to get through a birth naturally, and that there was no luck involved. Which sometimes there is. If you've been in labour for 2-3 days before even getting significantly dilated then you're probably too knackered to contemplate the rest of labour without a rest. That's the kind of thing that sticks in my mind sometimes.

I had an epidural with DS1 and ended up with a forceps delivery and was needed that many stitches later that the nurse described me as a "patchworth quilt". I had to spend over a week in hospital recovering.

No epidural for DS2 (not out of choice as it happens but I was told I was not in labour) and I was home a few hours later.

I don't really think the epidural was "wimping out".

Epidurals are amazing. And I was one of those women who before birth said 'never will I have an epidural, it's copeable pain' forward to a 36 hour induction process, a syntocinon drip to make contractions come faster and a back to back baby. After 3 nights in hospital with no sleep, I welcomed that needle in my back!! I did end up with a forceps delivery but that wouldn't put me off an epidural again.

Why is it such a concern to other women how others cope with their labour pain? Each to their own. I commend any woman who can go through labour and birth with minimal pain relief but that's not the way I could do it and I don't see why epidurals should be frowned upon.

badguider Fri 23-Aug-13 21:49:02

I've not come across that attitude to epidural at all (and i'm 39wks pregnant so around a LOT of birth stories and ante-natal discussions of birth right now)

What I HAVE come across is a lot of awareness that if there is no other reason why you can't be in active birthing positions then there are advantages to avoiding the epidural and therefore being able to move freely and use the pool.

Once you are constrained by something else though - induction, IV, anti-bs, continuous monitoring or just plain exhaustion, then you aren't fully mobile anyway and have little to lose by taking the epidural.

Obviously I haven't given birth yet, but these are the messages that I am getting and the OP is about the messages rather than the reality so hopefully I won't be jumped on for talking about something I haven't experienced yet.

FridaKarlov Fri 23-Aug-13 21:50:44

It's no-one else's business what pain relief you choose. I had ALL THE DRUGS including an epidural because it was looking likely I needed an emergency C Section. I wanted to kiss the Anaesthetist when it took effect. I'd been in labour for 40 hours by that point so anyone who suggests I wasn't trying hard enough can bore off.

Out of 6 women in my NCT class we had 1 straightforward birth with no interventions. Sometimes that's just the way the cards fall.

meganorks Fri 23-Aug-13 21:50:50


NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 21:52:24

I ended up with a spinal block with DD1 as they couldn't get the epidural in and I was on the table for emcs.

It was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me grin

Before that I was offered NO pain relief whatsoever, not even gas and air, even though I was really really distressed (induced and it all kind of went wrong).

IME - and of course everyone's experiences are different - the midwife clearly didn't want me to have any pain relief even though I was in a terrible state. Otherwise she presumably would have given me some confused Don't know what that was all about.

I agree that some NCT groups and NHS groups as well are down on epidural and in a way that isn't just related to increasing other interventions. Got the same vibe about CS. While poor outcomes from things like forceps were hardly mentioned / glossed over. I definitely got the feeling from both groups that there was a prevailing "right" and "wrong" way of doing things which was not really related to actual risk assessments IYSWIM.

sittinginthesun Fri 23-Aug-13 21:54:20

I think that it's down to insecurity, as most things are.

I had an agonising time with ds1. When ds2 was born, the consultant went over my notes and birth plan, and wrote EPIDURAL when requested.

The fact I could give birth in relative comfort was a revelation. I actually enjoyed the experience, and I'm quite happy to shout it from the rooftops!

MoominsYonisAreScary Fri 23-Aug-13 21:54:54

i had 1 during labour with ds1 as they thought I might need a cs.
i didn't like the whole not being able to move thing and swore id never have one again.

had g&a with ds2 but still needed an epidural after for retained placenta.

Ds3 was an emcs under general

Ds4 epidural at 18 weeks to put an emergancy stitch in

Ds5 had one at 14 weeks to place another cervical stitch and had a spinal during the elcs which wore off before they even got the baby out!

im used to the things now!

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 21:56:28

In an ideal world it is no one's business, but at the moment it feels like it is something that the whole world is willing to discuss in great detail. Take the interest in Kate Middleton.

Frida - yes, the night before DD's 1st birthday I raised a toast to the amazing anesthetist. Oddly, we had 4 emcs's out of 6 in our NCT group!

Badguider, that's such a healthy attitude to have to birth. But yes, I am talking about the messages. As I've said before, personally I don't care how women give birth as long as afterwards they feel happy with the support they had and the decisions they made. But sometimes you meet the strangest people who have strong opinions that must have come from somewhere. Particular women who haven't had children yet grin I know a few who are very much "I'm not having an epidural, I'm having a lovely water/hypnobirth, epidurals are so bad for the baby". And while I really hope they get what they would like, reality isn't always like that.

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 21:59:42

NiceTabard - I definitely got the feeling from both groups that there was a prevailing "right" and "wrong" way of doing things which was not really related to actual risk assessments

That's very much what I am failing to explain! Studies and risk assessments say that an intervention free birth is generally best for both the mum and the baby, where possible. I understand this. But if you have an epidural for whatever reason, some people see that as 'wrong'.

Don't even get me started on the few looney women I have met who act as though having an emcs is because you failed somehow!

ReallyTired Fri 23-Aug-13 22:00:44

The NCT are anti epidurals because they are mad on active birth. Middle class mothers are often insecure that that makes a minority bitch at each other. (Ie. breast v bottle, Gina Ford v Attachment pareting, consultant led unit v homebirth.) Some of these mothers may have postnatal depression and only see these issues in black and white.

Every labour is different and the pain threshold varies considerably between different women. It is far easier to cope with pain if you have a 3 hour labour than if you have a 33 hour labour. There is a lot of luck when it comes to childbirth. Getting good pain relief should not be luck in a first world country.

I had an epidural with my first child, but I didn't even need gas an air with my second child. So much depends on the positioning of the baby. A long back to back labour is hell for a first time mum. I feel its inhumane to refuse a woman the best pain relief when she has suffered for hours.

I feel that an epidural should be available to all women who want one. Also every woman should have one to one midwifery care in labour. Having good emotional support helps reduce fear and labour pain considerably.

I don't undertand why mobile epidurals are not used more in hospitals. We need research to design a bed/ chair that will help a woman with an epidural to get into a good birthing position and monitor her without being instrustive.

Finickynotfussy Fri 23-Aug-13 22:00:54

My experience was like Frida's and after a long day at home with no pain relief the gas & air and spinal block in hospital were absolutely brilliant -- I was very much of the 'Now I am in hospital I will have ALL THE DRUGS' view.

I do think it is weird that some people seem to equate birth with doing an Iron (wo)Man or something.

plummyjam Fri 23-Aug-13 22:02:27

I'll freely admit that I was a complete wimp when it came to labour. It was absolute fucking agony from the moment it started.
Getting the spinal anaesthetic for my EMCS was one of the best moments of my life. Before I had DD I always said I'd only have an epidural for a back to back presentation or induction but now I think I'd go for it early doors regardless (or ELCS) next time.

Must be said though that in my experience the only "epidurals are for wimps" attitude seemed to emanate from the midwives I met rather than other mums.

Finickynotfussy Fri 23-Aug-13 22:03:25

I think mobile epidurals aren't used more as hospitals never have any money and also I think I read somewhere that they need wifi to work (or is that mobile monitoring?) -- having worked in the NHS I thought when I read that 'oh great, an IT issue, that'll help...' hmm

I was certainly more scared of an epidural than the actual labour. I hate the feeling of not being in control and I didn't want to lose feeling in my legs.
I'll admit that to start with I felt very proud of myself for doing it without much help, but after speaking to my NCT friends very quickly I realised that I was lucky to get through it all without any drama. Also if I'm lucky enough to have another, next time might not be so easy

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:05:59

Is it purely the NCT? Or is it the media and online forums that have helped?

'middle class mothers are often insecure' hmm. I think I would like some data on that one.

I loved my epidurals, no feeling of guilt, I didn't know I was supposed to feel guilty. I just felt grateful.

I ended up with an epidural after my very anti-intervention MW told me to get one. She said, rightly, that I just couldn't carry on after days and only 2cm. When I finally got a CS, the surgeon said that DD was "the most perfectly posterior baby" he had ever seen. Hence the screaming agony, then.

ImFineThankYou Fri 23-Aug-13 22:09:21

My labour was 50+ hours. Went to hospital after struggling for two days at home to find I was one fucking centimetre dilated.
I have never been so disappointed.
It got to the point where I was delirious from the pain, not coping and struggling to carry on in any way. Everyone was suggesting epidural. I agreed.
It was the only intervention I had.
To this day I feel disappointed in myself. I feel like I 'failed'. Like I couldn't do it by myself. I feel I let myself down.
Stupid right?
Someone once asked me if I'd had a natural birth and I replied no because I still to this day feel I didn't.

ReallyTired Fri 23-Aug-13 22:11:12

"I was certainly more scared of an epidural than the actual labour."

That is an example of NCT propaganda terrifying pregnant women.

Finickynotfussy a mobile epidural is just a different cocktail of drugs which allows the woman some movement and feeling. You can feel the contractions with a mobile epi and you know when to push, but 90% of the pain is gone. I believe that mobile epi drugs cost more.

moble monitoring is an IT issue, but you can have a mobile epi with traditional monitoring. Excessive continous montioring can cause a cascade of intervention. Unless someone is watching the trace continously then there is little benefit of continous monitioring.

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:12:34

I'm sorry you feel like that, Imfine.

There must be something out there that is making women feel like they have failed. But what?

FWIW, I also had one of those two day, regular contraction labours that barely took me to 4cm. I was so exhausted that unless I went from 4cm-10cm in twenty minutes, I was never going to manage with the rest from an epidural.

But who cares why or when?

It genuinely makes me very angry that somewhere out there, somehow, women are being fed the message that by having an epidural they have 'failed'.

TarkaTheOtter Fri 23-Aug-13 22:16:08

Lots of random thoughts on this:

badguider that's exactly how I see it - as I was flat on my back anyway I had nothing to lose.

I wouldn't say I had a mobile epidural but it was definitely "light touch" as I could tell when I needed to push (felt pressure but no pain) and could walk as soon as back on postnatal ward. It was great!

I do think a lot is timing though. Because I gave birth quite quickly after epidural was sited they didn't bother with a catheter which helped recovery.

Fwiw whilst my NCT classes were pro-active birth, I didn't get the impression they were anti-epidural.

I think this is bigger than childbirth though. I remember feeling pretty pleased with myself recently when I had a filling without local anasthetic.

Given the choice, I would have had one for the conception grin

nenevomito Fri 23-Aug-13 22:16:42

When I had both DCs I had every form of pain relief they could throw at me.

No guilt here.

useful drugs, no pain. Whoop!

mamamidwife Fri 23-Aug-13 22:17:17

Very true Thurlow, it would be lovely to get the birth we want, in the method we choose but life isn't like that smile the best way is to be open minded, go with the flow, those people have the best birth experiences rather than people who are very prescriptive about what birth they want- often they end up disappointed if things don't go to plan.
Pain and coping with pain is such an individual experience anyway.
I know I coped ok and was well supported by my midwife and using g&a, but as soon as they put syntocinon up I was desperate for an epidural because that stuff is brutal!
Then no pain, epidural was fantastic!
until I went to theatre for an em LSCS and they topped up epidural too much and gave me a high spinal block, and I couldn't breathe, ooops

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:18:00

I did both NCT and NHS classes with DD1 (overkill!) and they both gave very similar messages.

I was also disappointed with the session about BF that we got with the NCT which I also felt glossed over / failed to mention possible probs and what to do and who to talk to and just felt incomplete. This is best for bay do it do it problems? there are no problems.... etc. I had close friends with babies already who had BF and all had difficulties to some extent but apparently the idea that I knew 6 people well who had all BF and all had difficulties was - I think she said - extraordinarily unlikely / impossible - basically she accused me of lying although what she thought my motivation was is a mystery.

All in all, frankly, I found that the advice and support I received from midwives, NHS and NCT, during pregnancy and birth, was shit. Looking back on it hmm

The bits that were done well were the medical tests and checkups and ultrasounds and stuff, and the medical team who did my EMCS.

FacebookWanker Fri 23-Aug-13 22:18:41

I think there is some luck involved. My Labour with DD was only 7 hours a nd I was 8cm dilated by the time they let me turn up at the hospital. She was born an hour after the initial check so I doubt there would have been any point in an epidural.

If I had been in Labour for 20 hours I would have welcomed an bbc epidural. Definitely.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:18:52

bay = baby

FacebookWanker Fri 23-Aug-13 22:19:33

I have such problems typing on a Kindle

brdgrl Fri 23-Aug-13 22:23:53

I had an epidural with DD. She was back-to-back and it was a long labour that ended with them getting me all prepped for a caesarean. Then this other (absolutely gorgeous, I noticed through my tired haze...) doctor came in and got her out with forceps. No regrets.

I actually decided at the beginning of my pregnancy that I wanted to have an epidural. There was so much pressure everywhere I turned about having a 'natural' birth (like an epidural makes in unnatural?)...I was genuinely afraid that I would be refused one. I made DH swear that he would fight my corner if there was any resistance about it on the night. At the prenatal classes, when they asked if there were any questions, my hand was up like a shot = when do I get my epidural? smile

I'm no wimp, and I certainly never felt like a failure. I was almost 40, I was well-educated and well aware of all the choices available to me, and this was what I wanted.

Wallison Fri 23-Aug-13 22:24:46

Is a bbc epidural one that Jeremy Paxman gives you?

I always thought that epidurals increased the likelihood of other interventions such as forceps and ventouse, which is why they are discouraged (and personally, I would rather have had a c section than either of those options).

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Fri 23-Aug-13 22:26:10

I loved my epidural when I had DD. It made her birth bearable.
With DS the evil midwife refused me pain relief. By the time I saw a good midwife who knew her arse from her elbow, it was too late for an epidural as I was 9cms (on just sodding co-codamol angry despite me screaming for an epidural for about 2 hours and being told I was not established enough for one... yeah right!).
I ended up with pethadine (which I didn't want, but was all that they would give me) and gas and air. I was in agony!
I didn't feel a failure either time. I just felt better supported by my midwife with DD, as she listened to me when I was in pain, and she helped ease it.
My first birth was a much better experience thanks to the pain relief, and much better midwifery care.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:26:48

BBC epidural is the one where they say you can't have it unless you agree to give birth live on telly. Is the way they get people to do those progs wink

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:26:50

My friend who wants the hypno-water birth, I have been trying to gently explain to her that there are a lot of reasons utterly outside of anyone's control why that might not happen. Back to back baby, waters breaking early, bacterial infections... I definitely agree that anyone with too strict a birth plan can get very, very upset by things not going to plan. It's a great thing to have an idea what you want, but I believe women should know about the things that can change their birth plan, and understand that a bacterial infection might mean a heavily monitored, bed-based labour.

I agree luck comes into it. If you dilate quickly and your baby is in a good position then you are well placed for a quick labour. But the reasons that can cause a slower or problematic labour aren't exactly anything caused by the mum.

Ignores the friend who asked me what I had 'done' to get a bacterial infection hmm

jacks365 Fri 23-Aug-13 22:29:37

I was more scared of the epidural than the thought of birth too but I've never been near the nct in my life. I was carefully talked through all the options by my midwife beforehand including effectiveness and side effects and I very much went into it with a wait and see. That went out of the window and I delivered with no pain relief because my labour progressed very fast. I have 4 dc and have spent a total of 3 hours in labour my dsis on the other hand had the total opposite experience and ended up with an epidural after 40 hours of labour, she had done nct classes makes you wonder whether they perhaps put so much stress on women that it can be perfect with the right attitude that living up to it is impossible.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Fri 23-Aug-13 22:30:02

I should add DD was born back to back, so I was very glad of the epidural. I didn't need any interventions at all, and no tears. I guess that was down to a good midwife though, and not the epidural.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:30:05

Anecdotally. Like really anecdotally. Like, my mum grin

Says that the midwives don't like to allow epidural because then the woman goes from "midwife care" to "surgical / medical care" and the midwives don't like that as the woman is off their "patch", and it goes on their stats and so on.

Of course my mum (like many parents) talks rubbish quite a lot and she had a vested interest (working in a hospital on the surgical/medical side)... But still. I didn't dismiss the idea out of hand when she told me. But then I had terrible experiences with midwives and great ones with the medical crew so I would wonder if there was something in it.

Wallison Fri 23-Aug-13 22:30:37

grin NiceTabard

Wallison Fri 23-Aug-13 22:32:06

I'm probably wrong about epidurals increasing the risk of other interventions btw - it's just what I was told and have heard it since.

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:34:51

The increase of intervention - I haven't seen the studies personally, I'm not medically minded. But I wonder if a study has been done that can compare interventions for women who have epidurals v women who have had very long labours (i.e. 30+ hours of regular contractions before pushing stage, if not before active labour). Personally speaking, I reckon I would have had more intervention without an epidural and some rest, than with no epidural but no rest. There's only so long a body can go with no rest, food or liquid before it loses the ability to do anything impressive.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:41:27

Wallison I was told that as well and I'm sure statistically it's true.

But I wonder sometimes about whether the pain in childbirth is sort of underplayed - or something - something is going on. As even if pain relief means escalation of intervention, if a person is in a lot of pain they they need and deserve pain relief and under no other circs would they be denied just in case they lead to something else which may or may not turn out to be a bad thing.

My mum (yes her again) reckons that because in the bible it says that women must suffer in birth, that attitude has come down, throughout the ages. She has views, yes she does grin

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:44:33

I might be very wrong, but I thought that the suffering in childbirth was explained in the Bible as women's punishment for Eve?

Is it really as simple as that belief pervading? I can see that the medical intervention of previous decades (twilight sleep and all that) was a step too far, but now some people seem to think we should come back full circle and 'embrace the pain'.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:45:40

Also what gets my goat is that difference in risk between CS / VB is couched.

CS they talk about all the surgical risks in great detail, possibility of infection blah blah ad infinitum.

VB NO risks talked about. I know people who have had tears of varying degrees, loss of sexual function, infection. On MN people who have incontinence, wounds that refuse to heal, there is a wrecked bits thread I think? All sorts of really severe consequences. Some of them will be due to forceps and so on but still. None ever mentioned in these classes. ALL possible risks of CS mentioned.


Lazyjaney Fri 23-Aug-13 22:46:18


True Dat

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:50:48

YY punishment to women in bible.

These ideas get into the psyche of nations over centuries. Childbirth is supposed to be painful, it is natural. It is something that women are built for, it is natural, it is extremely painful. That is just how it is. If women get pain relief then that somehow goes against the natural order, the way things should be. Not sure. You'd have to ask my mum grin but I think there may be something in it even if it sounds ridiculous at first glance and is hard to explain somehow.

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:52:50

I also might be very wrong here, but aren't women not built for it - as in, as a species, our pelvis is too narrow and we're still waiting for it it to catch up with the size of babies heads?

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Fri 23-Aug-13 22:54:07

Thurlow I think you've hit on one of the problems with the pronouncements that are made. It seems likely to me that the link (which I've never seen a proper reference for) between epidurals and other interventions might well be because women are encouraged to do without epidurals for as long as possible, therefore if/when they do get an epidural, in many cases things have gone on for such a time that other interventions are brought into play.

It's been said before, but in other circumstances, there is no way a person would be encouraged to do without pain relief when in severe pain because it would be somehow 'better'. I don't see anyone advocating doing without pain relief after surgery, or when a bone has been broken, for instance. And while those are injuries and a birth is not, they are similar in that eventually the pain will subside, so why not just 'cope'? hmm

Zoe Williams is very good on this. I think she wrote in Bring It On, Baby that it's often mentioned that epidurals lengthen labour but that what doesn't get said it that it only lengthens labour by, on average, something like 37 minutes. And, of course, it's 37 pain-free minutes.

Have to say though that I have not seen any of these 'embrace the pain' threads on here.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 23:01:11

Thurlow that's my understanding as well, that humans did a payoff from an evolution POV - walking upright gives us narrower pelvises and we gestate our children relatively longer and have big heads to accommodate our large brains so even more probs getting them out. This historically resulted in a higher death rate for people giving birth but evolution didn't worry about that as long as there were enough live young to keep the population going.

What I don't understand is why we haven't evolved - if the women with small pelvises etc died or couldn't have more kids - why we haven't evolved to do it easier. Maybe it's not been enough time or something.

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 23:01:23

With hindsight, my pain level during labour was at an 8/10. Horrible but bearable. Probably like a lot of women. If I had found out several hours in that I was already 8cm dilated, I would have probably carried on with G&A. But 8/10 for 30 hours with no food and no sleep is pretty unbearable.

I strongly believe that length of time a woman has been having painful contractions that are affecting her ability to get some rest etc needs to be supported as much, and is probably in as much need of an epidural if she wants one.

Though I can admit I am biased, as by the time I was 4cm the mw's on my particular ward had ignore me saying that it had been going on a long time, I as struggling to eat and drink, when I finally got some monitoring I was tachycardic from dehydration.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 23:02:54

I turned the dial up to 11 grin

<wonders who will get it>

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 23:03:29

I got it grin

treaclesoda Fri 23-Aug-13 23:04:25

Thurlow, as a slight aside, your comment on us not being perfectly designed has another biblical aspect, in that I have heard it quoted by evangelicals as proof that evolution does not exist, because if it did, we'd have bypassed God's design for birth by now.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 23:05:22

Honestly I was a total mess. I have had a lot of surgery and stuff in my life due to a condition that was often painful (joints would dislocate) and the situation after my induction was literally unbearable, I was making plans as to how to render myself unconscious if no-one else was prepared to do so. I found myself literally unable to cope and I have had a lot of pain before.

It really fucked me up a bit actually.

I had a ELCS with DD2 and it was lovely.

treaclesoda Fri 23-Aug-13 23:05:32

well, not bypassed, just that it would have evolved into something much less traumatic

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 23:08:10

treacle that would mean that God still chooses to punish all the women of the earth, in the most severe way, in perpetuity, for something that one woman did thousands of years ago (they believe about 8000 years I think since creation?).

If I were in their shoes, that would make me wonder whether I really wanted to worship that god, rather than spend my time getting concerned with other people's beliefs.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 23:08:33

Interesting point, for sure.

By the time I had an epidural I had been in labour for 45 hours and don't see how I could have gone on without one. I was both physically and mentally exhausted. It certainly wasn't the easy option. DS was in the wrong position so after 45 hours of contractions I was still only 4cm. When they told me I was finally 10cm and ready to push I almost wept with joy.

TarkaTheOtter Fri 23-Aug-13 23:24:54

My situation was slightly different as I only had a four hour active labour. It was an induction at 38weeks and I was virtually strapped to the bed because of IVs in each hand. My body responded very "well" to the syntocin but it was absolute agony and, not only would I have given up having a baby, but would have rather died than not have the epidural. As it happened I have birth very quickly afterwards so maybe I could have held out. But why should I have when there was an option to take away that pain even if it only made a difference for 30mins or so.

LittleBearPad Fri 23-Aug-13 23:51:12

NCT and their sodding cascade of intervention

Our teacher was definitely anti-epidural but did spend most of our weekend class being disappointed with us all for not having home births.

My waters went at 38 weeks, had to be induced and eventually had an epidural as dd was back to back. Monitoring was a nightmare and so I let the epidural wear off as they were concerned about DD's heartbeat and I wanted to feel the contractions to see if they matched her heartbeat dropping. Epidural top up didn't work so ended up with spinal and ventouse. If anyone was to tell me I wimped out I think I'd have to shout a lot. The spinal anaesthetic was amazing I went from being in the worst pain of my life to happily chattering to all and sundry in the operating theatre about what my hospital number was (I was keen to be helpful!)

StElmo Sat 24-Aug-13 00:01:05

I honestly couldn't give a flying fuck how other people give birth. I also dislike being regaled of people's tales of labour/childbirth. The options are laid out, it's up to the parents what they do and who they do it with and where.

NiceTabard Sat 24-Aug-13 00:07:45

StElmo the options aren't laid out, that is kind of the entire point of the thread!

Pachacuti Sat 24-Aug-13 00:17:38

My NCT class was very balanced on epidural - in fact I'd say that overall we'd mostly gone in feeling very anti-epidural and anti-pethidine, and the course teacher did a great job of putting across a "Mmm, yes, but it's probably not a good idea to be too rigid in your plans because you don't know what your circumstances are going to be or how you're going to feel, so it's a good idea to learn about them as one of the options available..." argument. And she had had both her children at home (a fact we had to almost forcibly drag out of her at our last session - she really didn't push her own experience at all).

quesadilla Sat 24-Aug-13 00:19:15

I have never and will never understand the way women fetishise not having pain relief. I think most if this stuff about there being risks associated with it and about mobile births being easier are basically machismo from midwives and a weird puritanical competitive streak among mothers.

I also think there something quite primitively anti feminist about it. When was the last time you heard a bunch if blokes high fiving each other for having a gall bladder operation without pain relief?

quesadilla Sat 24-Aug-13 00:20:37

Bunch of blokes

LittleBearPad Sat 24-Aug-13 00:24:16

StElmo this possibly wasn't th best thread for you to open then was it...

brdgrl Sat 24-Aug-13 00:54:07

I think it is sad that those of us who chose epidurals still feel we have to 'justify' it through the details of our difficult labours, IYSWIM.

Even the approach of "well, plan for a home birth/water birth/no pain relief, but be aware that it may not be possible" - while obviously a good start and totally necessary - seems to me to still contain an uncomfortable saying "well, plan for your beautiful perfect garden wedding, but be aware that it might rain and you'll have to move inside which obviously would be a terrible shame and not nearly as good - but hey the important thing is that you'll be married, eh?

I ended up not having any difficulty getting the epidural, because of the circumstances of my labour - but I chose one as part of my birth plan long before I knew how it was going to go.

quietitude Sat 24-Aug-13 01:10:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Strokethefurrywall Sat 24-Aug-13 01:17:54

I managed to give birth to DS using hypno birthing techniques and minimal gas and air.

However, I know that I was LUCKY enough to have a baby in the best position for birthing and the whole thing only took 5 hours from start to finish.

I was also lucky enough to have an OBGYN and hospital that would allow me an epidural at any point in my labour, even at 10cm if I had asked for one and there was time. That gave me so much relief knowing that I could ask for one whenever I felt I needed it. I also know that I was lucky that the only time I felt I needed it was at 10cms when DS was on his way out.

I'm pregnant with no. 2 and I will go into this labour with exactly the same mindset. As far as I can without and as long as it's not unbearable and the only reason I want to go without is so that I can labour in water and can move around as I need.

I find it so upsetting that women don't have access to the kind of pain relief they need and choose for what is widely know as one of the most painful events in their lives! It's barbaric that you have to beg someone who feels that they know better than you. I honestly think that the only reason I didn't need pain relief is because I knew I could have it whenever I needed it! Rationing for labouring women depending on where they are in the country is just not on.

Every woman should be given the right to pain relief whenever and however they require - anything to allow them the birth that they want - without being made to feel inadequate, guilty or any kind of a failure.

Strokethefurrywall Sat 24-Aug-13 01:23:28

And although I'm not in the UK, I think the feelings of inadequacy about pain relief are nurtured by some midwives and doctors unfortunately, the same as over here.

I don't know any women who feel inferior for having pain relief, nor do I feel superior for not having pain relief. But I think the media, and parts of the medical profession foster this idea that to somehow "succumb" to pain relief is like giving up. It defies belief, it really does.

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 01:24:41

I can't remember seeing threads where there was any consensus that epidurals are 'wimping out'. Ever.

Do you need to feel victimised for some reason OP?


Really - if you want an epidural in a UK hospital and you ask for one, it's generally forthcoming. In as much as you can ask for anything in an NHS hospital and expect it to be provided lickity split, especially if there aren't enough midwives or anaesthetists to go around.

PeriodMath Sat 24-Aug-13 01:50:53

I hate the "cascade of intervention" rubbish. Often quoted on here. Women having difficult births will often require intervention - they will be a having long, painful labour and that's why they want the epidural.

Difficult births lead to epidurals, not the other way round.

ukatlast Sat 24-Aug-13 02:32:05

Quote Thurlow: ' I understand the cascade of intervention that an epidural may bring, and that a pain relief free vaginal birth is probably, on the balance of things, better for both the mum and the baby as long as everything is going well.'

Why would you say that? Are you Dutch? If men gave birth, GA would be available...seriously...why does a vaginal birth have to be pain-relief free?
There are lots of pain relief options although I favour epidural myself for vaginal births.
The Dutch seem to argue evilly that anything other than natural painful delivery interferes with bonding but obviously that is complete bollocks.

ukatlast Sat 24-Aug-13 02:38:43

I think the media is a bit anti elective C-section because of propaganda put out by NCT and the Midwives Body but having pain relief for a vaginal delivery is a separate issue.
The real problem is that NHS hospitals cannot guarantee an anaesthetist being available to do an epidural so that may well make some women arrange ELCS instead.

ukatlast Sat 24-Aug-13 02:45:24

BabyMamaDrama and Frieda....
It's ridiculous that you were both in Labour for between 36-40 hours before getting your epidural....if you want a comfortable labour, epidural should be in your birthplan from the start especially if you are induced.

ukatlast Sat 24-Aug-13 02:50:35

THurlow: 'That's very much what I am failing to explain! Studies and risk assessments say that an intervention free birth is generally best for both the mum and the baby, where possible. I understand this. But if you have an epidural for whatever reason, some people see that as 'wrong'.'

This is where you are going wrong Thurlow - how can a load of traumatising pain be best for me psychologically?
When humans first started giving birth we didn't have anaesthesia - now we do and so there is no reason not to use it. Very few female obstetricians have pain-relief free deliveries - they usually go ELCS - I wonder why?
Would you have a tooth out without anaesthetic? Thought not.

Fillyjonk75 Sat 24-Aug-13 02:58:46

All the pain relief options were set out in full detail in my NCT classes, I felt I went into labour fully clued up which make me feel more confident. Had epidural first time round, which was great. Second time round I knew it would most likely be a fairly short labour of 6 hours or less like the first, so gas and air was fine, though I did ask for pethidine as I must have been transitioning, but didn't have any in the end. With first daughter it was the uncertain length of time that made me go for the epidural. I thought there was no way I would be able to withstand the pain for what could have been 24 hours or more for all I knew, and then have the energy to push out at the end.

So instead I had a nice, fairly restful, if alert, time while the contractions ramped up and I dilated further, then only had pain at the end when I had to let it wear off to push her out...but I knew it would only be a relatively short time by that stage.

I definitely recovered quicker, had less stitching and no bruising with second non-epidural delivery, but hard to know if it was the lack of epidural or just being a second birth that made the difference. I had also listened to self-hypnosis CDs and had done yoga throughout pregnancy second time. The breathing certainly helped a good deal with contractions pain, though undoubtedly previous experience played a big part too.

apprenticemamma Sat 24-Aug-13 03:11:14

Interesting debate and good to see that most of us here are in favour and believe that most women are in favour of it all being a v personal choice. I agree that subtle messages are filtered through media, nct (which we avoid) and yes there is a sense of pride in having limited interventions in childbirth , which arguably could come across as 'smug' in some. Interesting points about why nhs discourage it (in my case it was too late by the time they could get the on call anaesthetist). I think the guilting effect is only v subtle ...far worse in the breast feeding side of things and guilt at not being good enough as a mum is associated with PND . ......I'm unashamedly having an epidural /drug birth this time and really good to hear such positive accounts of it. I'll use my pregnancy yoga to labour some of it out at home first though.

AngryGnome Sat 24-Aug-13 06:32:37

The only time I experienced a sneering attitude to pain relief was from the midwives in hospital. NCT, friends and mumsnet threads (!) have in my experience been completely open to any kind of pain relief/intervention required. I have never felt judged for my labour.

The midwives, on the other hand, refused me gas and air as apparently 'you shouldn't make such a fuss, you don't need gas and air at this stage, no other woman would need it' (thus was having my waters broken after 12 hours of completely ineffective contractions) and then tutted loudly after I begged for an epidural 20 hours in and said 'yes, I thought you'd be one if those who wanted an anaesthetic'.

AngryGnome Sat 24-Aug-13 06:40:22

I do think the NCT is getting an unfair bashing here. My NCT classes were not at all hostile to births requiring interventions, in fact I felt very prepared by my classes and had a good understanding of the pain relied options available to me (well, available in theory, had the midwives not appointed themselves as judgemental gatekeepers to the drugs cupboard).

The problem with NCT seems not to be their message but the lack of consistency between teachers. I have heard on here about some awful attitudes promoted through NCT antenatal classes.

Makqueen Sat 24-Aug-13 06:44:24

Well, I have never heard of anyone talking about how they got though their appendix operation on just gas and air......

If something hurts and you want to stop it hurting then wonderful. If you don't then meh, I don't really care what you did.

I have ways avoided swapping birth stories anyway, a)because I couldn't care a less about how another woman gave birth, it bores me and b) I see no honour in being the one to have survived the most horrific pain in this day and age.

There is nothing more irritating to me when someone is telling me about their new baby and it goes like this "she's lovely, 8lbs, and I did it all by myself with just gas and air".

But then, I speak as someone arranging my second elective section.

Makqueen Sat 24-Aug-13 06:48:10

Fwiw, when I had my ds, I had the misfortune to overhear two midwives on the ward talking a out epidurals.

One was saying that when a woman asks for one, you should always fob them off, tell them it's comming until its too late as women don't need them. The other agreed and laughed about fobbing off distressed women with excuses.

I was shocked and upset and I hope that if they are ever in horrific pain one day that thief pain relief is held up for a long as possible. Nasty women.

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 08:07:01

"I hate the "cascade of intervention" rubbish. Often quoted on here. Women having difficult births will often require intervention - they will be a having long, painful labour and that's why they want the epidural.

Difficult births lead to epidurals, not the other way round."

Yes - difficult births lead to epidural use, so it's very hard to unpick any cause and effect relationship when you're trying to work out why such a very high percentage of first time mums with an epidural need interventions in their birth.

It is interesting though, that if you are a healthy, low risk mum and you plan to give birth in an environment where epidurals are available, you are about twice as likely to need an emergency c/s or instrumental birth as a similar mum who opts to give birth somewhere (ie at home or in a birth centre) where epidurals require transfer. In other words, there's something about labouring in a place where there are high rates of epidural use that makes healthy, low risk mums more prone to interventions.

(can I just point out before anyone says anything - the Birthplace 2011 study, where these figures come from looked at outcomes for birth based on the mothers risk status at the start of labour, and her preferred place of birth, not her actual place of birth - so women who booked a homebirth but ended up transferring in to hospital for a forceps birth would be included in the 'homebirth' section of the trial. Otherwise you'd have a figure of 0% forceps for homebirth as these aren't done outside of an obstetric unit!).

To shed some light on the 'I was refused an epidural by a midwife' scenario - in the UK 8% of women nationally answered 'no' to the question 'did you get the pain relief you wanted in labour'. In some hospitals it was as low as 2%, in one hospital it was as high as 22%. Interestingly, high rates of women saying 'I didn't get the pain relief I wanted' don't necessarily go hand in hand with low epidural rates, and vice versa. So the hospital with the highest number of women saying they didn't get the pain relief they needed (22%) had an average rate of epidural use. The hospital with the lowest rate of women saying they didn't get pain relief had also had an average number of women opting for epidurals (25%)

In Kettering hospital - where only 16% of women used epidurals, 11% of women said they didn't get the pain relief they needed.

In Epsom, where 42% of women have epidurals scarcely fewer (8%) said they didn't get the pain relief they wanted.

Point being - expectations about pain in labour are not consistent regionally. High epidural use doesn't always go hand in hand with high rates of satisfaction with pain relief in birth and low rates of epidural use don't always go hand in hand with low rates of satisfaction with pain relief in labour.

Go figure! There is far more to all this than meets the eye.

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 08:13:17

Minifingers, I have never seen a thread where the consensus is that epidurals are wimping out. I have seen plenty of threads where many individual posters feel that. What prompted me to start this thread was another one last that that included someone, anecdotally, who thought their labour was better than someone else's because it was intervention and pain relief free.

Quesidilla has it: you come across people who fetishise pain during labour.

The reason I say it is "better" is probably explaining my point in itself - I am no medical professional, my knowledge is from NCT classes and sites like this one, and I have been very much left with the impression that a drug free birth is 'better' for everyone, and by better I mean healthier.

Ukatlast, are you in the UK? Epidurals are generally only available in the UK once you reach 4cm. You can do day's worth of labouring to get to that stage.

FredKiller Sat 24-Aug-13 08:17:13

What upset me was about a month after DS's long, epiduraled, induced, ventoused birth, a good friend had a natural birth. Her DH sent around an announcement including in it how proud he was that his wife was "hard as nails" and did it all without pain relief.

Made me feel like shit and like I had wimped out by asking for pain relief. Especially as my DH didn't include anything about being proud of me in his announcement (I know he was, he just ain't the publicly soppy type).

Was probably the hormones at the time, but I've never really been able to shake that feeling that I failed. And have never managed to say the phrase "when I gave birth to DS..." I say "when he was born..." or "when he was delivered..." As I feel like I didn't do it properly so can't make that claim.sad

I may have ishoos...

FredKiller Sat 24-Aug-13 08:33:01

Oh and I'm now pregnant with dc2, and those feelings were compounded when, at my booking in appointment, the MW told me I could try harder this time around for a natural birth.

I'm now stressing out about this birth and failing again (which looks likely because the bugger is currently back to back...)

TheSmallPrint Sat 24-Aug-13 08:48:44

I have never understood people's negative attitude to pain relief in labour. What is it, the equivalent of an iron man competition? I chose an epidural for DS1 but was less bothered about having it for DS2, however, he was late and then I was induced and after nearly three days of labour and no sleep I was exhausted as soon as I got to 1cm I was offered an epidural which I accepted gratefully, they broke my waters as soon as it took effect and I fell into a much much needed sleep. About an hour or so later I woke to a strong pressure and DS2s head was there. That hours rest gave me the energy to give birth without any other intervention to a 10lb baby. I would bet that without that sleep I would have ended up in an emergency section as there was not an ounce of energy left in me to push that baby out.

It was a horrible birthing experience for many reasons but one of the only positives (other than my gorgeous DS) was that wonderful epidural.

Thank god for modern medicine.

PGRated Sat 24-Aug-13 09:00:05

In my experience its always the Alpha Mamma's who love to say they were pain relief free during labour as a medal of honor, ("oh you had XYZ, I had a natural birth because its better for baby") and then they go on to try and make other mums feel guilty about having pain relief.
My dads partner keeps reminding me that she was lucky to have gas and air back in her day and that the modern woman has it soooo easy with disposable nappies etc hmm

Novia Sat 24-Aug-13 09:02:42

That women should feel they've failed if they have an epidural makes me so sad. And the idea of women being refused pain relief makes me absolutely furious.

One thing that hasn't been raised actually is the cost - as I understand it, there is a significant price tag attached to administering epidurals, which is partly why they are 'rationed' in some hospitals...

I must admit, following my NCT classes I was absolutely convinced that I was going to hypno birth my baby and have zero pain relief - how naive that sounds in retrospect! My Spanish husband just didn't understand my attitude, as apparently you are offered an epidural as soon as you go through the hospital doors over there!

As it turned out I had a 46 hour labour and it was agony. I had every pain option going (g&a, pethadine and water) but as my heart rate went up to 190 in the pool they pretty much insisted I have an epidural to bring my heart rate down. The relief was amazing - I was texted my NCT class within minutes saying 'take the drugs!' My labour was so much quicker once it was pain free and I still pushed (so not being able to is myth!)

Next time I will be requesting drugs the minute they wheel me in!

Fillyjonk75 Sat 24-Aug-13 10:59:29

In other words, there's something about labouring in a place where there are high rates of epidural use that makes healthy, low risk mums more prone to interventions.

I nearly had DD1 at home but wanted the option of an epidural and decided I quite liked and felt safer in the hospital. So presumably it's self-selecting. I don't count an epidural as "intervention" but as "pain-relief".

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 11:10:25

See, while posters can say they haven't seen much criticism of epidurals, there are plenty of women who can say, like fredkiller, that they feel that they failed because they had an epidural. So there must be something out there that is giving people this impression.

The epidural/cost argument makes perfect sense.

DreamingOfTheMaldives Sat 24-Aug-13 11:21:44

OP, if that's the attitude of some people to epidurals then think I will keep away from the parent and baby classes etc as I will no doubt be considered the lowest of the low as I am due an ELCS this week. I have gestational diabetes so consultant wants baby out before due date. Was planning an induction if favourable but with Bishops Score of 1 so far and 2 failed attempts at performing sweeps I see no point in putting myself through an induction which is likely to fail so in order to avoid increased likelihood of EMCS I am opting for ELCS (unless things have progressed when I'm assessed again on Monday).

I think this is the right decision for me but part of me can't help but think it's a cop out and I'll end up regretting not experiencing labour. I'm sure labour competitiveness from women in the first few weeks after baby arrives when I'm no doubt a hormonal wreck really won't help.

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 11:26:27

Dreaming, in my experience I haven't met anyone who has judged an ELCS for medical reasons.

KitCat26 Sat 24-Aug-13 11:57:22

I'd have had an epidural if I could. (I did ask, apparently too late.) There's nothing wonderful about a forceps delivery with no pain relief.

And then having a spinal block in theatre to be stitched back together.

I had an elective section the next time and it was flipping amazing grin.

Bunnygotwhacked Sat 24-Aug-13 11:59:04

If you have a headache you take a paracetamol noones going oh you are super woman if you suffer without painkillers if you need the epidural take it for whatever reason lots of different situations make it difficult for women to cope could be tiredness length of labour or just plain fear which can make you hysterical. I personally am terrified of the epidural the whole needle in the spine thing but if i could of got the same effect with a quick jab in the leg i'm pretty sure i would of gone for it

meddie Sat 24-Aug-13 12:08:55

I dont get it either. At no other time are you expected to struggle on and cope with pain.
no one would applaud you for having your appendix out without pain relief. Why are women made to feel guilty for having pain relief during labour.
It bloody well hurts.
medical advances mean we have this lovely extremely effective method of relieving pain and yet its some badge of honour to struggle on without it.
Personal experience was my labour was much more painful than my appendicitis

LillyGoLightly Sat 24-Aug-13 12:21:29

I have to say I probably would have had an epidural, but I was more scared of the needle in the back then I was the pain of labour. Funny thing is though, is that I don't have a fear of needles, don't mind having injections or blood taken, but the whole idea of a needle in my back/spine had me quiver in my boots lol.

I had just gas and air with DD1, well I say just gas and air, I had a tens machine and birthing ball...all was fab bouncing up and down on the ball feeling merry on the gas and air. Pushing DD1 out lying down on the bed was a different story though! I'm lying there doing my little lady like pushes (was scared of pooping lol) and got read the riot act by one of the midwives as pushing like that just wasn't going to get the job done, so I was convinced to give a proper almighty push. On doing my big push the pain felt like I was being split in two and I promptly cried my eyes out and had a right melt down grabbing DH by the scruff of the neck whilst screaming at him that I CAN'T DO IT, I WON'T DO IT, NO ONE CAN MAKE ME, I'VE CHANGED MY MIND. DD1 was born naturally pushed out by me, 10 minutes later. To this day I am still totally embarassed about my diva meltdown.

DD2 gas and air water birth, was lovely, very calm, no meltdowns from me, in fact I was cracking terrible (I thought I was hilarious) not funny jokes. Best bit...watching my DD being born and pulling her up out of the water.

Bunnygotwhacked Sat 24-Aug-13 12:45:22

aye to needles i'm fine with them have had various piercings &tattoos even had tattoos on my back covering part of my spine but a spinal freaks me right out.
Love the Diva meltdown bless we all say and do daft and mostly aggressive things whilst in labour especially at that stage i bit my dh whilst having my first

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 13:04:28

Intervention like emergency c/s and forceps fillyjonk.

hackmum Sat 24-Aug-13 13:08:11

The NCT teacher I had was absolutely wonderful, and she didn't say anything against epidurals - she was very balanced. I did have an epidural, and neither she nor anyone else in the class tried to make me feel bad about it.

My experience of NCT is that they just try to make you aware of the pros and cons. There are cons, of course - an epidural increases the risk of episitiomy and assisted delivery (forceps or ventouse). That is the "cascade of intervention", a phrase that has been derided by other posters, but which does, unfortunately exist.

In my case, I had an epidural because, after about 17 hours of labour, I was given a syntocinon drip to speed things up, and the syntocinon made labour agonisingly painful. So the syntocinon led to the epidural which led to the episiotomy and ventouse.

But I don't feel bad about any of it, and I don't regret any of it. It was just the way things worked out.

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 13:10:03

Some people are very motivated to avoid an assisted delivery or a c/s or exposing their babies to opioids. For these people there is very strong rationale for going without pain relief. Partly because opting to labour in a place where epidurals are available appears to reduce your chance of a normal birth.

Really - it's not fair to rubbish women's sincere reasons for not wanting pain relief as 'futile' or 'idealistic' or 'pointless' while at the same time bemoaning that women who want pain relief feel diminished by the attitudes of others.

LillyGoLightly Sat 24-Aug-13 13:12:51

Bunnygotwhacked - LOL at you biting your DH.

My mum did similar to my Dad whilst in labour with me. She screamed at him 'look at what you have done to me...your never coming near me again'!! Obv not the case though since my lovely younger sister was born 4 years later lol.

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 13:13:07

Thurlow - can you link us to a thread where people clearly say that having an epidural means a mum is a wimp. There must be a few of them?

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 13:19:40

Thurlow - if a mum can get through birth without taking drugs and she is happy to do so, then it is better to go without as there is not a drug in this world which doesn't have side effects. All of the drugs used in labour (bar entonox) do sometimes cause quite serious problems (for example epidural sometimes causes the mother to develop a temperature and is associated with urinary retention after birth; pethidine sometimes results in the birth of a baby too sedated to breastfeed and with respiratory depression).

Do we have to pretend this is not true to protect the feelings of those of us who've used a lot of pain relief in labour? I don't think so.

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 13:28:37

As for fetishing pain - if you intend to do without pain relief it's a good idea to do some thinking about the emotional and psychological experience of dealing with severe pain and focus on what you might gain from not having pain relief. It's a sensible strategy. I wanted a natural birth primarily for health reasons but wondered if there would be any psychological benefits for me in doing it this way. I think there were!

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sat 24-Aug-13 13:36:58

But a vaginal birth can also have consequences that are quite unpleasant, and, as has been said here, those are frequently ignored in the evaluation of different birth experiences.

Bearandcub Sat 24-Aug-13 13:39:30

Both of mine were induced due to complications they were both back to back too. I had epidurals for each. I didn't manage the pain but did not have the opportunity to have a natural pain it was all chemical and rushed. I needed the epidurals and am glad I had them.

OHforDUCKScake Sat 24-Aug-13 13:45:18

I had all the drugs with my first, including epidural.

With my second, I said I didn't want all that because I didn't want to be stuck on the bed etc.

But over 2 years later I will admit that I didn't have any drugs for the second birth because I felt the need to prove to myself and others that I could do it without them.

It's ridiculous I know.

I actually liked both births though, despite how different they were.

Solari Sat 24-Aug-13 13:56:04

After an extremely painful birth (syntocin and back-to-back, and epidural inserted unsuccessfully then removed due to sudden high fever), I bled out over 2 litres and had something excruciating done to me. Lots of what felt like pummeling to my abdomen and ?packing to stop the bleeding.

Then I had to have a 1 hour drip to put me in a constant state of contraction (again, to stop the bleeding), and was in so much pain I would have been howling if I had the energy (sobbed into hospital pillow instead).

Finally, a doctor came and hooked me up to some kind of IV pain relief with a button I could push for more. It was such a relief I could have fallen to my knees with gratitude.

Then, not even 20 mins later a new midwife started shift and immediately wanted to take the drip away "You don't need that, you had a normal birth!" I have never felt such desire to actually punch someone before, especially since she went out of her way to actually get it taken away from me. Why? I just don't get it...

badguider Sat 24-Aug-13 13:56:32

Not wanting an epidural isn't about wanting to experience pain though, or thinking it's 'tough' or 'better' to do without pain.

In my area you can't use the pool with an epidural and need to be in the CLU where the anaesthetists are (not MLU) and they can't guarantee 'mobile' epidurals on every shift or that the mobile type will allow full mobility.

So for me, attempting to labour without an epidural is nothing to do with pain whatsoever, it's about wanting to stay active and use gravity and the pool and knowing that I am a real fidgit and would hate to be constrained and much prefer to be able to move around freely.

On the other hand, if I am constrained by an IV or induction or CFM or utterly exhausted by a long labour and find myself lying on a bed anyway, then I will take the epidural.

janey68 Sat 24-Aug-13 14:15:42

I think it cuts both ways. I had people telling me my labour must have been easy, or short, or the baby really well positioned, or that I was just lucky, to have my first (and second) baby without epidural


DropYourSword Sat 24-Aug-13 14:51:52

I just think it's disgusting and unforgivable for midwives to feel they can withhold arranging an epidural for someone if they have requested one. Although I do understand that there are sometimes genuine reasons for delays (anaesthetist in theatre or at an emergency).

PeriodMath Sat 24-Aug-13 14:55:56

I totally agree with the poster who referred to partners/husbands who send emails or FB updates out after the baby is born in which they comment on the mother's lack of drugs as being commendable.

What a trooper, my warrior wife, beautiful natural water birth - no drugs - so proud - I have read all these comments. It always irritates me too. It's just so patriarchal - really, your wife and child being alive and well at the end of the process should be the only thing to marvel at.

I don't think I've ever heard people of our generation suggest pain relief is for wimps but the rejoicing in a "natural birth" kind of has the same implication.

Can you imagine a woman posting on FB: poor DH has passed a huge gall-stone, took 18 hrs but he didn't take a single aspirin - was beautiful experience, am so proud of him! #herohusbands

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 15:26:41

Sorry, I didn't plan on this becoming yet another pain relief v non-pain relief debate. I believe that every way of giving birth is valid and no, minifingers, I don't in any way think that we should pretend that there are no potential complications to using pain relief vs a pain relief free natural birth. Though I don't seem to be able to win, as I have also been picked apart for saying there are potential side effects to using pain relief.

What I was interested in was almost where this larger debate has come from in the first place. Personally, I do think the use of words like "motivated" does actually imply that women who decide to use pain relief haven't, in some way, concentrated hard enough or worked hard enough to manage a pain free delivery. This is of course a very sensitive debate as generally whatever anyone says can be seen as a slight on other people's experiences.

Why, recently, does is seem to have become such a public debate that women are in this position to feel slighted by other people's experiences?

The thread I am remembering in particular, but I can't find at the moment, was about people feeling pride in a pain-relief free birth, which did include some posters saying that they 'worked hard' at not needing pain relief and suggested that if other posters had focused on hypnobirth etc they could have managed it too. I might try and find it later but am MNetting on the sly here while Justin's House works as a a distraction grin

On a side note, it's not possible in every PCT to choice a location to give birth that doesn't offer ready access to epidurals. Our MLU and CLU are in the same building - even if you chose the MLU, the anesthetist is still only one floor away!

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 15:27:49

Sorry, didn't read period's post properly before I posted. YYY, the rejoicing of natural birth has within it an implication that it is better.

FredKiller Sat 24-Aug-13 15:30:24

grin PeriodMath

DropYourSword Sat 24-Aug-13 15:30:48

Aw, I just think you have some proud husband's and daddies who want to sing their wife's praises. I thought it happened for any type of birth.

OxfordBags Sat 24-Aug-13 15:37:08

I had it in my birth plan that I MUST have an epidural. Fuck writhing about in agony for the best part of a day (it was still hellish, but the epi certainly made it bearable). Some women get far too wound up about refusing pain relief, like they're going to win the prize of Top Martyr if they suffer. And once you've won it, so what? We've both still got a baby at the end of it.

If you don't want pain relief, or actually don't feel you need it, great. If you want a really natural birth with zero outside help, go for it, I'm on your side. If you want to have ATD (all the drugs), cool. If you have a cs, planned or otherwise, then that's fine too. There is no hierarchy. Getting a live, healthy baby is the goal.

And all this stuff about interventions equalling failure is not only offensive, but stupid. Without interventions, half of us wouldn't be here, either because we or our own mothers would have died during or after labour, or we'd have died ourselves giving birth. Or been seriously messed up forever. No-one wants needless interventions, but we are fucking lucky we have them just in case.

tobiasfunke Sat 24-Aug-13 15:56:33

I think there is really an attitude that having an epidural is wimping out. Anytime I mentioned it to midwives or the NCT lady they weren't against it per se just giving me lots of reasons why it wasn't as brilliant as it sounds and how long my laboutr would be etc etc. I had one - after that evil syntocin drip made me almost hallucinate with pain. Turns out it was as brilliant as it sounds.
After I had Ds 3 different friends who had had babies in the previous year admitted they had had one. Never mentioned it before when I asked them what labour was like.
I tell everyone who will listen how wonderful it was.

SoniaGluck Sat 24-Aug-13 16:21:16

No-one wants needless interventions The thing is Oxford, it used to be that if you were not very determined you would get needless interventions. When I had my first baby in the 80s, things were just beginning to change.

From the 50s onwards women had to contend with just in case obstetrics. Women, who could have coped perfectly well without intervention were routinely forced into having various procedures that they didn't need. It was partly because of this that organisations like the NCT, AIMS and SSHC came in to being. Individuals like Sheila Kitzinger and Janet Balaskas were influential, too.

The pendulum may have swung back too far the other way. It shouldn't be a badge of honour to not have pain relief; it should just be one of the options in the range according to the individual's needs and / or inclinations.

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 16:58:00

That's really interesting, sonia. Yes, perhaps we're starting to see the pendulum swing too far. The over medicalisolation was too much, and perhaps the great achievement of the natural birth lobby is now going a little away from encouraging an educated choice for women

thebody Sat 24-Aug-13 17:32:01

everyone needs to lobby for THEIR OWN birth experience whatever that is.

if a woman wants to give birth in a wood surrounded by nature while another wants to be given an epidural and watch TV until the pushing stage that should be her choice and noone else's fucking business.

personally I tried 4 times to get a fucking epidural and amazingly each time the doctor was 'busy in casualty'

thing is as a trained nurse I knew that was crap. 😄

You can't possibly fail at giving birth!!! it just happens how it happens.

OxfordBags Sat 24-Aug-13 17:43:30

I know interventions were pushed on women, Sonia, my Mum had them pushed on her when she had us lot. I am so glad that there was a massive Natural Birth Movement, as it has really empowered women and opened the scope for choice (or theoretical choice, as things can go awry, as most of us know too well).

And CHOICE is the operative word. Being forced into an episiotomy just to make things auicker for the staff attending you is bad. But so is being refused an epidural, as thebody just testified.

I think that some people will always feel like they have failed or done things wrong/not as well as others, most of us will be like that over something at some stage in our lives. It could well be that in the past, some women who laboured at home, delivered without problems and didn't have any new-fangled help felt like they'd 'done birth wrong' in similar ways to which some women now feel they have failed if they have drugs or something.

We women are taught to compare and judge ourselves and reach for bullshit invisible standards all the time - I wish we'd stop doing it when it came to giving birth. IMHO, stressing over labour matching up to some ideal you've built up in your head will only make the whole shebang worse, not better. It really is a go with the flow thing, even if that flow means a shitload of drugs and an eventual cs.

peteypiranha Sat 24-Aug-13 17:54:21

I gave birth in the water pool twice and it doesnt hurt much if your in the water. I personally wouldnt have an epidural as I know 2 people who have had them who have had long lasting back problems.

PeriodMath Sat 24-Aug-13 18:17:07

The empowering thing though...don't people think giving birth calmly and without pain is pretty empowering too?

I am waiting for baby no 2 atm. My friend recently told me that her second birth was "empowering" precisely because she had no pain. She had a very traumatic first birth, denied epidural, long labour, no pain relief for stitches either. I know, because I saw her, that she was a mess in the first week after the birth, physically and emotionally wrung-out.

After her second, for which they went private (solely to guarantee an epidural - isn't that an absolute disgrace?) she went home smiling and tells everyone her second birth was brilliant. Calm, reassured, no pain, lots of pressure still felt when it came to pushing and a lovely easy time bfing because she wasn't weeping and shaking with ptsd in the post-natal ward.

I know which I'd find more "empowering".

janey68 Sat 24-Aug-13 18:51:27

Agree 100% with soniagluck's post. Being expected to give birth in a certain manner (and yes, my mother had to give birth flat on her back, she had to have certain things foisted on her) is denying people choice.

It should be possible to have choice without being judged for it. And actually, saying 'what's the point of going without pain relief - there are no medals' or that old chestnut 'you wouldn't have a tooth out without pain relief' IS just as judgemental.

I went without epidural not because I enjoy pain but because to me, having a baby is not on a par with medical processes like having a tooth extraction or gallstones removed. It just isn't. And many other women feel the same. I didn't want invasive pain relief for something which to my thinking was not a 'medical event' or an illness.

Now, if other women don't agree, and choose to have an epidural because thats empowering for them, then that's fine. I don't judge them. But it has to work both ways- there needs to be respect for women who go without pain relief. I'm not some sort of masochist and I would choose to be anaesthetised for surgery and other painful medical processes- but I didn't want to for having a baby. And that's okay.

thebody Sat 24-Aug-13 18:58:43

period yes I agree with you totally but still if another woman wants to feel every twang in a woodland setting with a midwife then that's great too.😄

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 18:59:25

"It really is a go with the flow thing, even if that flow means a shitload of drugs and an eventual cs."

Well - if you're willing to accept that interventions are always unavoidable, you're going to be listened to, and that the care you're going to get is always going to be directed towards giving you the healthiest and easiest to cope with birth. Good luck with that. hmm

"That's really interesting, sonia. Yes, perhaps we're starting to see the pendulum swing too far"

Oh yes - way too far.hmm In the 1950's the c/s rate was 2%. It's now nearly 1 in 3 births, and only a minority of uk mothers have a birth which doesn't involve instruments, episiotomy, augmentation or surgery. 95% of babies nationally are born in obstetric led units. Only 2.7% at home. I wouldn't call that the pendulum swinging too far towards natural birth.

"Anytime I mentioned it to midwives or the NCT lady they weren't against it per se just giving me lots of reasons why it wasn't as brilliant as it sounds and how long my laboutr would be etc etc"

It's their job to tell you of the risks of the treatment. You already knew about the benefit of an epidural: that it takes away pain in labour.

"Without interventions, half of us wouldn't be here, either because we or our own mothers would have died during or after labour, or we'd have died ourselves giving birth."

Even when the c/s rate was 2% in the UK in the 1950's the vast majority of mothers and babies made it through labour in good health.

"I totally agree with the poster who referred to partners/husbands who send emails or FB updates out after the baby is born in which they comment on the mother's lack of drugs as being commendable."

If they believe their wife has gone through 10 types of unpleasantness in labour with the same intention as she had in pregnancy - to avoid exposing her baby to things she believes will harm it (which is most people's motivation for avoiding pain relief - they feel it's better for the baby) then why the hell shouldn't they feel proud of her?

"Can you imagine a woman posting on FB: poor DH has passed a huge gall-stone, took 18 hrs but he didn't take a single aspirin - was beautiful experience, am so proud of him! #herohusbands"

Having pain relief makes no difference to your ability to pass your gallstones, or to the gallstones themselves, as, unlike babies, they're not actually ALIVE. Having pain relief in labour on the other hand CAN make a difference to your ability to get your baby out without needing to have them PULLED or CUT out of you, and CAN make a difference to your baby's condition at birth.

(and before anyone comes on and says epidurals can sometimes resolve a situation where a birth isn't progressing - yes this is true. But usually they hamper the normal physiology of birth, rather than not affecting it at all, or actually improving it. That's not to say they aren't worthwhile or a blessing for some women in some situations).

Sorry to point out the obvious, but that's what it is, the bleeding obvious. Which everyone chooses to ignore with their bandying about of analogies about rotten teeth and operations.

thebody Sat 24-Aug-13 19:17:43

it's not a competition. noone really should care how any one else gives birth but we should all care that every woman gets safe choices for her birth.

OxfordBags Sat 24-Aug-13 19:19:48

Mini, I had to have an epi in the end, even though I had already stated I wanted one, because I had raging pre-eclampsia and had not had any sleep for nearly 3 days when I went into labour, and I couldn't have coped with the pain or given birth without intervention, so yes, it helped, it bloody helped. Giving birth without intervention could have killed me and/or DS, who went into distress in the womb.

PeriodMath Sat 24-Aug-13 19:22:13

Minifingers, are you a midwife? Or an NCT teacher? Why do you seem so aggressively invested in this matter?

It was really horribly unkind of you to use and capitalise the words pulled and cut in your last post. My baby was born by forceps after getting stuck following an agonising and interminable first labour. The suggestion that I did not give birth to him, rather lay passively while he was pulled out has actually brought tears to my eyes.

That's never happened to me on mumsnet before.

Chattymummyhere Sat 24-Aug-13 19:44:48

I'm too bloody cared to have an epidural!! The whole needles thing freaks me out...

But them I've had it the other way

"Oh that was very dangerous having your baby at home"
" I guess you weighed up the risks?" Worried face
"Omg I cannot believe you did not go to hospital homes births are stupid"

There is no winning the only time I am against an epidural is when people are begging at 1/2cm for one when the hospital would not even admit them as in labour at that stage (only from what I've seen on one born)

I had a friend who had big issues after an epidural and that has also put me off.

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 19:46:22

Minifingers, I'm also interested if you work in midwifery or teach hypnotherapy or something along those lines?

I couldn't help but notice that you used the word "easiest". Do you realise how critical that work is, that your phrasing implies women shouldn't chose an "easy" way to give birth, that that it copping out somehow?

As I've said many times, I didn't want this to be a simple competition, but a discussion of why and how birth has become so competitive. That would undoubtedly have been a better title for this thread.

Yes, the human body is designed to give birth. Yes, it is a natural process. But that doesn't automatically mean that women should then have no choice when it comes to whether or not they want pain relief. Accepting pain relief when they are, as posters have said, hallucinating with the pain or so exhausted that they know they will have no reserve to push with is a choice women should individually be allowed to make.

In an ideal world, it would be great if there was the money for all women to have a decent and thorough explanation of all the risks involved in using the various forms of pain relief available, and the risks involved in a pain-free birth, and the risks involved in a home birth. Knowing every mother had been well educated should then mean that midwives listen to the mother when they ask for pain relief, knowing that the woman knew the pros and cons of what they were asking for.

And on the caesarian front, does it not occur to you that an increase in emcs's probably has a hell of a lot more to do with improved monitoring of the baby when it is in the womb, allowing healthcare professionals to make a decision about the baby's health that wasn't available to them before, than the use of epidurals? My emcs came about purely because of that. And I'm very relieved about it, because improved monitoring meant that my baby was delivered before she had a chance to become even iller than she already was.

Bubbles1066 Sat 24-Aug-13 20:32:44

Having had 2 babies 'pulled' out of me with ventouse first time and forceps the second time with only a few puffs of gas and air I would certainly say my body is not designed to give birth. I have never had any desire to push. Stumped the midwives! Thankfully my only goal in labour was not to die or be seriously injured, something which I thankfully managed, unlike my DH's friends' wife who is now braindamaged after suffering a seizure in labour. I think a bit of perspective is needed with birth. Birth is dangerous for humans. Whatever gets you through in one piece, is all that matters. No way is better than another.

FredKiller Sat 24-Aug-13 20:32:44

Minifingers - it's people like you and attitudes like yours which make me feel like I failed.

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 20:49:50

I agree, fred, as someone who has had my baby CUT out of me (silly me, I'm sure that it was the epidural that caused DD's bacterial infection to rage out of control, not the long, slow, dehydrated early labour that gave it the time to grow...)

brdgrl Sat 24-Aug-13 21:18:18

We don't have to justify the decision to have pain relief during delivery. We just don't.

Minifingers Sat 24-Aug-13 21:24:15

Oh for goodness sake - stop being so over sensitive.

I had my baby 'pulled out' of me following an epidural and it was fucking brutal. That's why I didn't want to risk having it happen again hence not wanting another epidural.

I'm not any sort of birth professional btw, though I have worked as a doula and an MSW and sat as a lay person on an MSLC. I have seen a good number of births, though not as many as a midwife, which is why I haven't yet got blasé about seeing babies removed with instruments. I'm glad we have modern obstetrics and I'm profoundly glad I'll probably never have to know a mum die in childbirth, but I am appalled at the sheer brutality of a lot of hospital births compared to the home births I've witnessed and experienced myself. I know - and the evidence supports my beliefs - that something is happening to women in hospital which makes too many of their births go shit-shaped, and I'm afraid epidural is sometimes part of the problem. Threads like this where someone tries to reduce the complexities of this issue to one of competitive birthing thoroughly piss me off. I think it trivialises the issue.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sat 24-Aug-13 21:25:06

What about the woman's condition at birth, Minifingers? I notice you haven't referred to my post about the (potentially horrendous) consequences of vaginal birth. I don't think women are fully briefed about those, whereas all the possible downsides of an epidural are dwelt on at length.

Snazzyenjoyingsummer Sat 24-Aug-13 21:28:25

And, while I'm here:
"if you're willing to accept that interventions are always unavoidable, you're going to be listened to"

Not the case: 1) I have seen patients ignored and not listened to many, many times - very often no one takes much notice at all of what they want, and 2) if this is true, how come so many women ask for intervention in the form of an epidural and are not listened to, and get fobbed off?

janey68 Sat 24-Aug-13 21:30:02

No, but equally we don't have to justify not having pain relief.
It does sometimes seem as though its entirely acceptable to say 'no one would have a tooth out without pain relief', or 'there are no medals for going without it'. These type of comments imply that women who go without are either some sort of masochist, choosing to go through extreme pain just for the hell of it; or that we do it expecting some sort of public recognition. The truth, for some women, is that we view giving birth as wholly different to 'medical' situations. I don't expect every other woman to see it like I do - and that's fine. But some respect the other way round would be good too. You don't need to agree with it, or even understand it- but you can still respect that some women feel very deeply that they want to try to give birth without pain relief

janey68 Sat 24-Aug-13 21:30:32

That was in response to brgdl

Thurlow Sat 24-Aug-13 21:40:19

It's not remotely about trivialising the debate about birth choices.

It's about asking why a woman's birth is seen as something which can be competitively compared.

OxfordBags Sat 24-Aug-13 21:44:00

janey, many women are lucky to even be able to merely want to give birth without intervention. For many, it's not a case of not wanting to try to do without.

brdgrl Sat 24-Aug-13 21:46:42

No, but equally we don't have to justify not having pain relief

No, you don't. Stop doing it.

janey68 Sat 24-Aug-13 21:55:03

I wasnt. I am just pointing out that its pretty judgemental to be told that you must be 'lucky', or have had an 'easy' labour, or a well positioned baby, or a short labour, if you have gone without pain relief, because none of these things are necessarily true. And it's really bloody annoying when people trot out the old line about not having a tooth out without pain relief... No, I wouldn't have a tooth out without being anaesthetised either, but having a tooth out isn't the same as giving birth.
It's about having respect BOTH ways round.

ChunkyPickle Sat 24-Aug-13 21:58:45

I was going to avoid epidural - but like many here, after 3 days, the last of which on syntocin, I needed something, and the thought of the needle was no-longer the worst thing in the world.

I think there's intention, there's how you see pain, and then there's how the birth actually goes.

This next birth, I'm going into it with a more open mind. If the pain is OK, then I'll skip heavy duty pain relief, but if it gets to the point of not coping then I see no problem with an epidural.

Surely that's just sensible, reasoned - you take the situation as it comes.

FredKiller Sat 24-Aug-13 22:13:25

Janey - did it ever occur to you that all those trite statements regarding teeth and operations might be a way of making people who feel bad about not managing to have a natural birth feel just a bit better?

And I'm sorry if I'm a bit sensitive about this minifingers. (Aside from the time I sat next to Westlife on a flight), my DS's birth was the most important/momentous day of my life so I kind of think about it from time to time.

janey68 Sat 24-Aug-13 22:22:49

I am saying that those trite statements are actually equally dismissive fredkiller. They just somehow seem to be more socially acceptable.

Telling a woman who has had a long, gruelling, extremely painful first birth that she must have been 'lucky' or it can't have been 'too bad' simply on the basis that she didn't have an epidural, is actually pretty nasty. And the trite comment about teeth out implies that a woman is stupid or masochistic to have a baby without being anaesthetised.

All I am saying is that I completely respect a woman's choice about pain relief ( obviously in some cases like medical emergency and cs there isn't a choice anyway), and it would be nice if that respect was mutual smile

zoobaby Sat 24-Aug-13 22:34:39

Bloody media. Remember when whatshername gave birth a month ago and the news was awash with her natural birth? I'm sure the private preparations with birthing gurus and, on the day, the presence of 4 midwives and 2 gynaes had nothing whatsoever to do with it grin.

I admit I haven't read all replies so apologies if repeating... When I had DS, it was an expectation that I WOULD be having an epidural. The 2nd MW was surprised that I didn't have one in initial stages. No idea if this was due to the fact I was induced or due to pain management culture at the hospital in question.

To be honest I declined due to being worried about a needle in my spine (as already stated up thread) but also because I secretly wanted to see if I could do it without. What a silly sausage I was! Haha.

zoobaby Sat 24-Aug-13 22:41:05

How about birthing injuries OP? I found those stories to be more competitive than pain relief choices.

FreeWee Sat 24-Aug-13 22:46:22

I loved my epidural. Loved it. Will be having another one please. Had an EMCS in the end so they just topped up the epidural. Would I have needed to have an EMCS without an epidural? Dunno but I would have been out of my tree with pain! People say you forget the pain. I have not forgotten the pain. I want to get pregnant and fall asleep for 9 months waking up to find a beautiful baby in my arms. Am I a wimp? Everyone experiences pregnancy and birth differently. I, for example, experience shitty shitty shittiness. HG from pregnancy test to delivery suite. Having had a terrible pregnancy I didn't want a terrible birth or I'd end up with PTSD and never want another baby.

TarkaTheOtter Sat 24-Aug-13 22:53:01

janey I do get what your saying. I think deep down I do assume that people who didn't request an epidural were in less pain than me because, at the point at which I asked for it i was out of my mind with pain and I wanted to die. To be brutally honest i wouldnt have cared about the possibility of a less desirable outcome for the birth. So I can't imagine someone feeling like that and not wanting an epidural.

mamamidwife Sat 24-Aug-13 22:53:54

What I find sad is the experiences people have had where they feel they have been denied pain relief like an epidural. I can understand the situations an epidural might be refused, like a high temp or too close to pushing, but this does not excuse disrespecting a woman and not listening to her wishes, providing what she wants, if not appropriate be honest and sort out an alternative if possible.

I think there is a place for epidurals though. I have seen it bring down the blood pressure in the severely pre-eclamptic woman. I have seen women with so much fear about labour pain that an epidural has released that stress from them and improved contractions. I have delivered women with epidurals on their knees & on birth stools when possible. Epidurals are not all about intervention, sometimes they are potentially life saving, sometimes they are freeing, sometimes they can work with nature. It's individual.

I really think its about going with the flow. It's about having good rapport with a midwife and good support from the birth partner, this contributes greatly to how a woman copes with the labour and birth (with all that entails) and her overall

Rhubarb78 Sat 24-Aug-13 22:56:54

I have had one birth with an epidural and one 'natural' ie no bloody pain relief.

The epidural birth was lovely despite the need for forceps, it was really calm and relaxed. The pain relief free birth was traumatic, extremely painful and stressful as I had a room full of people shouting at me to push while the ventouse dragged my poor baby out and I screamed the place down blush

If I have another I will be requesting an epidural at the slightest twinge, why be in agony if it can be avoided?

janey68 Sat 24-Aug-13 22:58:11

I also remember feeling I wanted to die; and having talked to other women it seems to be something a lot of women experience... a powerful and primal response to the body experiencing pain like nothing it's ever felt before.

I think you hit the nail on the head Tarka when you say it's hard to imagine another woman's experience: my point is that we don't need to, we shouldn't need to feel we should try to put ourselves in someone else's shoes: it's about just accepting that we're all individuals

VikingVagine Sat 24-Aug-13 23:00:02

Almost exactly the same as Rhubarb . 4 years on and I still have nightmares about my "natural" birth.

As DH says, you wouldn't have a tooth removed without pain relief would you?

apprenticemamma Sun 25-Aug-13 00:02:07

mama midwife what's your diary like for march 4th 2014? I could use a midwife like you grin!!!!! And after hearing all these stories it's reinforced my birth plan, epidural if poss.

ukatlast Sun 25-Aug-13 00:30:30

Quote Thurlow:
'Ukatlast, are you in the UK? Epidurals are generally only available in the UK once you reach 4cm. You can do day's worth of labouring to get to that stage.'

Yes I am now back in UK and had both my kids on NHS in UK at a hospital with a high epidural rate back then 40% I think according to DrFoster.
I was induced and so was able to get my epidural nice and early. I had an elective C section for second arranged on basis that baby was big ilke first but also that hospital couldn't guarantee availability of epidural and I had several friends who had been fobbed off by evil midwives with their second with the 'its to late story' wasn't going to happen to me if I could help it.
My kids are at Secondary School now but this topic incenses me that something so basic as pain relief is denied to women in Labour and that they are indoctrinated into thinking they don't need it.

I did end up with intervention ventouse/forceps (big baby who didn't want to come out) but it was painless, the same anaethetist came back and topped me up....anaethetists are usually very pro providing pain relief so the key is to find a hospital that has enough of them I think.

I think I may be the only person in UK who has managed 2 painfree deliveries on induced vaginal and one ELCS. The ELCS was by far the best experience though. All staff were pleasant for both.

ukatlast Sun 25-Aug-13 00:41:30

Janey68 no one ever said you did have to justify choosing not to have pain relief. I am 100% women being free to choose for themselves but feel the pro-pain relief lobby are the ones being fobbed off by midwives.

jessieagain Sun 25-Aug-13 00:52:37

I personally don't think agree with your op.

In my nhs birth class we were told about all methods of pain relief and I don't remember being dissuaded from using any.

They did say that epidurals can slow down the process and statistically leads to further interventions, but that is all.

From this information I decided that I would wait until I couldn't handle the pain until getting pain relief. I wouldn't start out asking for relief, I would wait and see how I felt.

If I needed pain relief I planned to start with gas and air then move on to epidural and then if I still needed something I would ask for pethadine. This was the order I decided to take as I sometimes don't react well to medication and I didn't want to take pethadine before the epidural.

As it was I was quite lucky and gas and air was enough (I did need that right from the start).

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 00:57:36

Ukatlast- I agree if there is evidence that women who
Want an epidural are being denied them by midwives then its important that the subject is aired. It's awful if that is happening without medical justification.

But the OP was suggesting that its other sources that the 'anti pain relief' stems from and even states that its women on MN who are talking of having an epidural as 'wimping out' . I just don't see the evidence of that at all... I think 99% of women on here seem to be saying its about choice (notwithstanding that some medical situations don't allow for choice)
In fact like I say, if anything it seems to have swung the other way, and it's women who go without pain relief who are seen as weird, or masochistic to put their body through that level of pain when they could avoid it. There seems to be a refusal to accept that some women just don't view childbirth as completely different to illness or other medical situations like tooth extraction.

PeriodMath Sun 25-Aug-13 01:09:02

Janey68, why do you keep saying this thing about being told you must have had an easy birth if you didn't need/want an epidural? Has somebody on this thread said that? I don't recall anyone posting that. Although clearly being in painful labour for 12 hrs (standard for a first birth) is easier than being in painful labour for, say, 36 hrs.

I don't think anyone is judging women who don't have pain-relief. They are judging the smug attitude some of those women who, having gone down that route (very often against their will actually) later decide to shout it from the rooftops and refer to the experience as empowering (vom) or something to be proud of. It may well be something to be pleased about but as soon as you claim to be proud of it you are in danger of appearing to denigrating the alternative. Worse still, is when people give very specific reasons to do with baby welfare and bonding as making no analgesia the only responsible route.

jessieagain Sun 25-Aug-13 01:10:31

Have just read some other posts and I'm surprised about the nct being mentioned (and blamed), as I don't think that many women go to their classes as they are quite expensive in some areas.

I only know a couple of people who went to them, most go to nhs classes or nothing at all. I didn't even know about nct classes until I found mumsnet.

So I think this is quite an area-specific assumption to make.

Availability of epidurals also seems quite variable from area to area.

A friend of mine had an epidural in the 'natural birth centre' of the hospital to her surprise! (We had all been told that if you wanted an epidural you would need to be transferred into the labour ward but obviously there wasnt much pressure on hospital services when she was in labour).

In the ideal world all women could start out in the natural birth centre, if they chose that initially, and if they require further pain relief they could receive it straight away, without being transferred out.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 01:15:46

Periodmath- read the thread: there are countless references to women being 'lucky' if they laboured without an epidural (which rather implies that their labour was in some way easier or shorter) while that old chestnut about no one having a tooth out without pain relief has cropped up quite a few times on this thread too.

And who are these women who are 'shouting from the rooftops' about having had a natural birth? Don't recognise that at all. Feeling empowered is a different thing though.. Every woman has the right to feel empowered by giving birth; I personally found it hugely empowering. That's totally different to shouting it from the rooftops though

jessieagain Sun 25-Aug-13 01:21:45

janey I said earlier that I was lucky to not have needed anything more than gas and air for pain releif.

I will change that to I was blessed.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 01:32:23

I think everyone who has a healthy baby is blessed. Nothing blessed about the actual labour though, to my mind grin

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 01:38:39

Are you suggesting that there isn't an element of luck?
For some women, they had too much pain to continue labour without an epidural. It is reasonable for these women to say that they were not 'lucky' enough to make a different choice, if they wanted to.
What is your objection to that? (Unless of course you really think they did have more of a choice then they are putting forth, and think they should have just tried a little harder.)

This thread began with, and continues to produce examples of, women who had an epidural and consequently feel their birth experience is denigrated by other mums or by the institutions around us. You don't have to agree with the OP, it wasn't your experience, but it undeniably is the experience of others.

jessieagain Sun 25-Aug-13 01:43:15

I felt I was truly blessed to have my labour.

Was like something I never experienced before. Pain like I'd never experienced before.

But I had a fantastic midwife and felt no fear, as I trusted her and my dp and my hospital.

I trusted they would look after me and my baby and fortunately they did, so I was blessed.

If they hadn't I would have felt so betrayed and upset about it all, which is why some women are so sensitive and heartbroken about their birth experiences. sad

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 01:44:12

I've made my position clear: I think women should have the pain relief they want (or don't want). Obviously within the parameters of any medical issues. I don't think it's a matter for judgement at all. Once you start bandying around words like 'lucky' you are implying judgement and I'm not into that game. The only context in which I would use the word 'blessed' or 'lucky' is in having a birth with a good outcome: ie a healthy baby.

jessieagain Sun 25-Aug-13 01:55:54

janey some people are blessed to have higher pain thresholds than others. It is difficult to measure or compare but people can tolerate differing levels of pain.

Also during the birth different factors affect the level of pain, this is a fact.

So if you manage to tolerate your labour pains and don't have any resulting trauma from a lack of pain relief then I think you were very blessed.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 02:12:16

Jessie- I respect your feelings about your own labour- but as I say, I think it's a personal thing and its up to each individual to state how she feels about her own experience. I don't feel it's up to me to judge another woman 'blessed' or 'lucky' in her labour: I'm not her and I don't know how she feels.

I do feel blessed to have two lovely children though

PeriodMath Sun 25-Aug-13 02:53:31

Seriously Janey? You don't think a woman who has an 8 hr labour with no interventions at the end and goes home soon after, all fine, is luckier than a woman who labours for 36 hrs, back-to-back, baby stuck in birth canal, episiotomy, ventouse fails, forceps fail - and ends up with emcs and a week in hospital?

Really, there's withholding judgement and then there's just being plain awkward.

FredKiller Sun 25-Aug-13 07:10:36

Janey, you say it's just nasty to say some women who had natural births are luckier than others. I'm sorry you find that nasty. But to be fair, I don't think the hurt really compares with comments such as "he was hoovered out of you", as I had once.

jessieagain Sun 25-Aug-13 07:39:18

But if someone's circumstances are not due to 'random luck or fortune' then the implication is that they 'earned or deserved' it. confused

That implication is unfair and hurtful.

knickyknocks Sun 25-Aug-13 08:18:05

I had no pain relief first time round due to how fast I progressed. Bloody hell it hurt to the point that I thought I was going to black out. Second time round I had the full works, oxytocin, epidural, ventouse, episiotomy. I didn't feel any pain from the needle, as I was practically hysterical in pain. An hour after having it, I managed to gain some rest time as I was exhausted.

Neither births were 'easy' because however baby arrives it is never easy.

I think the wimping out mentality sometimes isn't helped by some ladies who,sugg

knickyknocks Sun 25-Aug-13 08:23:06

Bugger pressed send too soon. I was going to say, wimping out as it were I think is sometimes not helped by a few ladies who suggest that they'll have an epidural on the first contraction. That said, no-one knows someone else's pain threshold and so who are we to suggest otherwise? It's not a competition, a safe delivery for Mum and baby is all that matters, no matter how it's achieved.

Peacocklady Sun 25-Aug-13 08:32:13

YANBU. It is even upheld in antenatal sessions at the hospital I had my kids, the main focus was on home birthing, even though none of us in the room were planning one and she kind of glossed over pain relief and said it led to more medicalised births etc.
I'm sure in the states you can say before labour that you'd like one and you can have it from early on; here it's like you have to push yourself to the limit first.
I read a colleague's fb status when she'd given birth and it was here's my gorgeous boy, delivered on gas and air only, I thought wow is that the most important thing here?

DinoSnores Sun 25-Aug-13 08:39:34

"What is sadder is the phrase "as long as the mother and baby are bight well". Because in some cases the baby is stillborn, and that phrase diminishes the birth experience of those women"

What a bizarre statement. People are allowed to hope and want an alive babies at the end of it!

The fact I delivered a dead baby was the thing that diminished my birth experience, not a perfectly well meaning turn of phrase!

When I delivered my subsequent baby, my birth plan basically was "as little intervention as possible but whatever is needed for healthy mother and healthy baby".

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 10:41:58

Fredkiller- I said it was nasty when the implication is that someone has has an easier time, a shorter labour, or somehow has not felt as much pain as another woman. How can any of us possibly know?!

If a woman has an eight hour labour, no pain relief, no complications and is out of hospital quickly then if SHE feels she was 'lucky' then that's fine- but I think it's an entirely different thing for someone else to say she is lucky. None of us can know what that woman went through, how we'll she was supported etc

What this thread shows is that women can feel they've had a positive birth experience in all sorts of scenarios- some people have talked about having csections or very long drawn out labours where they had epidural topped up many times and forceps iin the end but they were positive and felt they had been given the intervention they requested. And yes equally some women who have natural births would describe themself as lucky or blessed like the poster above. But to start making. Value judgements such as someone having a labour without epidural MUST have felt less pain than someone who did have one is just crass

And also remember not all women have access to epidural anyway... You don't if you give birth at home or a midwife unit or if the anaesthetist is dealing with a medical emergency in hospital... Is anyone seriously saying that magically all women in the above situations have an easier/ shorter 'luckier' labour?

Honestly, why can people not accept that it's up to the individual woman to judge how her labour was - after all, who honestly has the arrogance to think they can judge another woman's experience ? hmm
And it's ok for EVERY woman to feel empowered by her experience. I'm not saying everyone does necessarily, but it's a perfectly positive emotion and doesn't mean that if you feel it , you are Boastful or bragging

FWIW I have never told anyone in RL about my births unless they have specifically asked what pain relief I used. And yes, there were a couple of people in RL who asked and when I told them, responded with, gosh, you must have had an easy time then... That's pretty judgemental and highly innacurate- giving birth hurts like nothing on earth, end of! Fortunately these two were in a minority and most people wouldn't dream of trying to assume they know someone else's experience

PeriodMath Sun 25-Aug-13 11:15:06

You're the one being crass Janey, not to mention deliberately obtuse and illogical.

Who are we to judge? Um...we are sentient beings with powers of comparison - perhaps that's why!

If you break your arm and I break every bone in my body - am I still not allowed to judge that you are suffering less than me? Much as your broken arm is painful and unpleasant?

It sounds like you did have easy births (we all know it hurts like fuck, kind of par for the course) - most women would love to have an straight-forward delivery. They wouldn't be looking for sympathy and understanding from women who have been to hell and back.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 11:18:41

Ok period math- you clearly are delighting in being judgemental and trying to make ridiculous comparisons about people breaking an arm versus every bone in their body!!

You go ahead and believe that I and lots of other women you don't know had 'easy births' - because it's clear you need to believe that to someone "justify" your own experiences.

Meanwhile, I will be quite content with knowing how my labour really was and will respect other women enough to know that they know how theirs was

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 11:24:02

<flashback to the moments of consciously feeling 'I want to die; it would be preferable to continuing with this' .. Like I said upthread I have spoken to a number of women who have experienced this feeling, and yes it is crass in the extreme to try to pretend to yourself that some of them were having an easy time >

VikingVagine Sun 25-Aug-13 11:38:21

I've had the wanting to die feeling twice. Giving birth to DD, and once with D&V (possibly food poisoning). I sincerely hope I will never feel like that again.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 11:50:10

It's a very frightening primal feeling. After I had dc1 and talked to some other women who'd experienced it, I did wonder whether it would have been helpful to be warned in ante natal classes that we might feel it. Probably not though, it might have made the fear even worse

thebody Sun 25-Aug-13 12:16:39

the 'wanting to die' feeling isn't exclusive to giving birth. also the feeling of actually having died due to pain, trauma and fear.

it's fairly commen in people who have suffered severe injuries, shock and pain.

my dd experienced this at 12 after a crash.

its the shock and pain here not the giving birth per se.

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 12:17:10

janey, I'm sorry, but in your posting here, you actually do come across as judgmental, even though you've gone to such pains to say that you aren't judging anyone. (I'm not even sure why you posted on this thread, given that you don't think it applies to yor experience in any way, unless it was to judge others.) And, yes, you're illogical in your conclusions - 'luck' is a huge part of it, and if one person was unlucky enough to have a more complicated birth with greater risk to mother or baby, they certainly don't need to avoid saying so. You are also coming across as very defensive, even though no one has asked you to justify your choices. You don't seem to understand it, but it is precisely these kind of responses which contribute to the situation described in the OP.

wimping out as it were I think is sometimes not helped by a few ladies who suggest that they'll have an epidural on the first contraction. That said, no-one knows someone else's pain threshold and so who are we to suggest otherwise?
knickyknowcks, I actually think we need to go further with this, and be clear that it simply doesn't matter what a person's pain threshold is. As long as the debate is about "did your labour hurt enough for you to be justified in getting pain relief", then it is still firmly tied up in ideas about 'worthiness' and 'strength of character' and 'wimpiness' and all the rest.

I've only had one DD, and I can't do any comparisons about how much it hurt. I know that I was given my epidural without any problems from medical staff because it was a complicated birth - but I also know that I planned on an epidural from the beginning - I wasn't interested in having any unnecessary pain during delivery, and made a completely informed decision about my own medical care, just as I would have for any other procedure.

Let's stop justifying why we wanted or needed epidurals - it feeds the idea that they are something shameful.

izzydazzling Sun 25-Aug-13 12:22:29

Imagine someone having a surgical procedure and them bragging about having no pain relief, you'd think they were crazy. Giving birth hurts and anything to make it less painful is ok by me.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 12:25:14

The body- yes, I'm sure it's something people feel in other extreme situations too.

Brdgrl- it's getting a bit tiresome now- I am NOT being judgemental, it's a bit ironic coming from someone who is banging on about luck constantly, as if there are two types of birth: really straightforward, lucky and easy, or really complicated and awful.

Birth isn't like that: it's a spectrum, some women have straightforward pregnancies and the potential to give birth naturally, some women develop life threatening conditions like pre eclampsia - and everything in between. Some women have high pain thresholds, some lower, some with the same pain threshold will react differently, some will be well supported in labour, some wont. Some women have strong feelings about certain pain relief methods, others don't.

We are all individuals.

I am not judging. I have said that consistently throughout the thread (and by the way we are all allowed to post on whatever thread we like you know!) But as I say, if it makes other people feel more comfortable to judge, then judge away.

Thurlow Sun 25-Aug-13 12:52:24

What this thread seems to show is that there really is felt to be a need to justify experiences one way or the other. Really, it's so sad sad

In an ideal world there wouldn't need to be much of a conversation at all.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 12:59:09

Maybe, but then you did start the thread grin

Seriously, when there are midwives out there who are withholding pain relief without medical grounds for doing so then that's awful. Some people on here have had that experience, and I suspect that's where any suggestion of 'wimping out' comes from. IME women don't go around telling others they are wimps. I also feel quite strongly as I have said that women are allowed to feel empowered by their birth experience (actually 'allowed' is a daft word to use- as if anyone can stop women feeling whatever they feel!) Feeling empowered is not the same as going around boasting. Not at all.

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 13:04:27

janey, you really make no sense. I've hardly banged on about luck - that was you. I posted about 'luck' twice, and never said anything myself about non-epidural women being lucky. I have simply said that of course women who had births that were higher risk or complicated ARE luckier than those who didn't. and telling them they should not say so is absolutely obnoxious and absurd.

(By the way, absolutely NO ONE has said that every non-epidural birth was 'easy' or made any such suggestion. That's you projecting, I'm afraid.)

Of course we are all free to post where we like. But I can suggest that maybe another thread would be more appropriate, one about your own issue of feeling judged as a 'natural' birther. You don't mean to be judgmental, I get that. But people are saying, in a variety of ways on this thread, that they feel judged for their use of an epidural, and I have to tell you, whether you liike it or not, your posts contribute to that sense of judgement. If you are so willing not to judge, why do you continue in this vein? No one has criticised your choice. If you know that your posts upset people who made a different choice, why 'bang on' about it?

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 13:05:18

women who had births that were higher risk or complicated ARE luckier

typo, obviously I meant to say "ARE less lucky"

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 13:09:09

Maybe the answer is to start responding to stories and comments about people's pain-free birth 'triumphs' with the old chestnut, "How nice for you."

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 13:13:41

We're all free to post where we like. I have not said anything remotely offensive or judgemental- if you believe I've done so, feel free to report my posts. That would look a bit daft though, because you know very well I haven't! As I say, I think it's terrible that some midwives are contributing to women feeling bad about using epidural.
Luckily (ooh I've used that word!) I don't feel bad about my births; I am just pointing out that its equally judgemental to assume that women who have natural births somehow have it 'easy' or less painful.

Anyway, thurlow: one thing which interests me is that I know quite a few women who had epidural for their first birth but for subsequent births were very keen to go without, and a number of them (not all, but a significant number) have said that although it was more painful the for subsequent births, they felt happier with the experience. I guess this shows that for some women, it is important to experience birth without epidural. I don't think these women felt pressurised into it by midwives or other women.. From what they told me, it was their own decision.

Thurlow Sun 25-Aug-13 13:16:40

Well, honestly brdgrl, I'm happier to go with 'luckier' because the sudden complication meant I got a CS without going anywhere near pushing and that was absolutely fine and dandy by me grin

Yes, janey, I did start this thread. But I'm more interested to know why there seems to be this opinion among some women rather than rehash the conversation, as I am aware that it is sensitive for many women, both those who had epidurals and those who had pain-free births. A few posters on here have actually proved my point.

If I'd had a choice I would have had an epidural as soon as it all started. I don't think that women should have to experience the pain and decide as it's happening whether it is too much or not, as long as they have made an informed decision.

Thurlow Sun 25-Aug-13 13:20:36

X-post. I also know a lot of women who had significantly less pain-relief during their second birth. I suspect this also has something to do with not having the fear of the unknown which you have in your first birth, and possibly also knowing that early labour should be quicker.

As a personal example, while I am very committed to fighting for an ELCS for any future births due to other complications, I now know what contractions feel like and with hindsight I now feel that without the 36 hour early labour, I'd probably be able to cope if I had to have a VBAC. I'm less scared by it all because I understand it more now, having experienced it.

I think when you have experienced something once it can be easier to think about experiencing it again in a potentially worse way.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 13:23:53

Is there such a thing as a 'pain free birth' ? I assume you meant pain- relief free!! (Although I have come across very very rare cases of women who genuinely don't experience pain with contractions- now they may well describe themselves as lucky, but it's a very rare phenomenon)

Thurlow- if you wanted an epidural from the get go then that's what you should have had, providing there were no medical contra indications. What you are saying simply reinforces what I am saying: all women are different. Some want an epidural from the outset, some want to see how far they can go without pain Relief. Some women have epidural first time but are really keen to experience labour without the next time , and some go without first time and then opt for epidural the next time. And some women have medical situations which take the choice out of their hands. Where there is choice though (and you started this thread in the context of where there is choice) it should of course be the individual woman's choice- not the midwife dictating. That's truly shocking- and let's put the blame squarely where it belongs.

Thurlow Sun 25-Aug-13 13:33:40

Yes, pain-relief free grin

Sadly, you can't have an epidural from the get go. I full understand why not, as they don't have the time or the resources to give an epidural from the beginning, but annoyingly for a lot of women it's the time taking to get to the magical 4cm which is long, agonising and exhausting beyond words. Personally I do think there is an argument to change the guidelines slightly that if a woman has been having regular (i.e. 3 in 10) contractions for two days and still isn't 4cm then maybe they are eligible for some help, but I kind of understand why not.

Situations like that are where, I believe, some women (myself included sometimes) will use the word "luck" towards women who have had pain-relief free births. Several day early labour feels very unlucky and leave you with little reserves to face active labour; I imagine a lot of women feel that if they had gone from starting contractions to significantly dilated within half a day, they might have considered an epidural free birth. FWIW I think the speed at which your body dilates and the regularity of contractions during that period is really kind of luck of the draw, but can have a huge effect on the active labour.

GoshAnneGorilla Sun 25-Aug-13 13:47:19

Just so you're aware, Minifingers is on all these sorts of threads clanging her chimes of doom.

She's equally charming when talking about breastfeeding.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 13:58:52

Yes thurlow, it may well be the case that the guidelines need reviewing. Any medical procedure is a case of weighing up costs, resources and pros /cons (and that's a plain fact, not a judgement) but of course things should be reviewed and if significant numbers of women are saying they want an epidural before 4cm dilation then that needs to be listened to and factored into the decisions of those who hold the purse strings and allocate resources.
From what you are saying, it does reinforce that any negativity is coming from the medical profession though, not lay people

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Sun 25-Aug-13 14:06:46

I think it comes from a mix of places in the systems from the media representations of births to individual medical professionals.

I was made to feel unnormal in two of my births for not having an epidural, even when I couldn't have one for medical reasons (spinal anesthetics contradict another medical condition I had). In my first I had a midwife go on about it over 45 minutes straight (I was watching the clock, she only stopped when I said I'd consider pethidine) and in my third, when I had to have my placenta manually removal (after one midwife yanked on it too hard and a chunk came out with the cord...), another midwife was brought in to help and she was gleefully saying over and over that I'd have to have an epidural that I'd avoided and be like other mums (I was actually quite smug when the anesthesiologist came in and showed her that I could not have one - her shutting up was a fine moment, the OR staff were far nicer).

Amusingly, my partner had an epidural when he went for the snip. Neither of are really sure why as he has mechanical damage in his spine but the anesthesiologist convinced him it was the best choice and was very eager about it. DH called it excruciating, and he spent longer recovering from the epidural damage than he did from the operation itself. Never an easy option he says wink We obviously need better pain relief for us odd body types and everyone else.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 14:08:02

Thurlow- actually as well as some midwives being at fault, I also have a hunch that some NCT groups are not as transparent as they should be about their agenda, as I know some women feel they don't get what they should out of the classes, and that they are misled to an extent.

My own NCT group was excellent: the teacher was completely upfront about the fact that their focus was on breathing techniques, relaxation etc, but she made it clear she would be led by the group and if we wanted input on csection, epidural Etc she would provide it. If I had ended up not having a natural birth, it would have been very unfair of me to blame the NCT because its not compulsory to attend, and at its best, they work extremely well for many women. But I have no doubt there is some variation in quality and I've heard women say they really Weren't clear about what they were signing up for, and so I guess that may be a contributing factor to some of the issues you describe

TarkaTheOtter Sun 25-Aug-13 14:23:56

I agree about NCT. Our teacher was very flexible and let us lead te direction. So whilst we did breathing exercises and active labour, we also learned about epidural, the practicalities of getting one (ie if you know you want it get the request in early) and bottle feeding as well as breastfeeding. It probably helped that we ha an experienced tutor who was also a former midwife.

I was offered an epidural from pretty much the outset but that may have been because I was an early induction. Once I did request it they got it arranged very quickly, so I do feel "luckier" than most of my friends who requested one and were denied because the anaesthetist was busy. Particularly the friend who then had one post birth anyway to remove the placenta.

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 16:49:49

* I have not said anything remotely offensive or judgemental- if you believe I've done so, feel free to report my posts. That would look a bit daft though, because you know very well I haven't! *
No, it would look a bit daft, because MN guidelines don't say people cannot be offensive or judgmental.

brdgrl Sun 25-Aug-13 16:58:27

It is also the case that at least sometimes, the very reason some women go with less pain relief on a second or subsequent birth is because of these exact social pressures and attitudes. If one had an epidural with the first birth and then was made to feel that one had 'missed out' on feeling like a 'real woman' or 'being empowered' or somehow failed - then one might feel considerable pressure to 'correct' that the second tiem around.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 17:58:40

Yes that's a possibility, but like I said, a significant number of the women I know who chose that route were happy that they had given birth subsequent times without epidural. They didn't feel coerced into it and they didn't regret the level of pain they felt compared to their first birth.

Equally, some of my friends were so pleased with their epidural first time that they wouldn't contemplate giving birth without next time.

janey68 Sun 25-Aug-13 18:04:31

In other words: what I have said all along. There is just as much possibility that a woman who wants a drug- free birth could be made to feel that she's weird, or stupid or masochistic by comments such as 'why on earth would you do that? You wouldn't have a tooth out... Blah blah blah'
Or even worse, encounter a midwife like the one described above who berated a woman for not having one, and then seemed almost pleased that following the birth, it looked like the woman might need one for a retained placenta.

It cuts both ways: don't judge people for having pain relief and don't judge them for not having it.

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