I went over my birth notes today at the 'Birth Reflections' service at my local hospital. (In order to get closure and prepare for No 2!) To cut a long story short, My previous labour was 27 hours from start to finish although I was only admitted for the last 7 hours. I asked for an epidural no less than 6 times during this period and was given the excuse that I needed to be 4 cm before I could get one. Suprise, Suprise, no one would examine me to check how dilated I was and so then it became 'too late' to give me once I had reached 10 cm. Despite Nice guidelines saying that no woman should be refused an epidural (even in the latent first stage!) apparently the hospital have their own policy. I am SO ANGRY about this and feel that I was ignored and treated like a small child. Incidentally, the hospital are unapologetic about this and refused to say sorry about the care I received. The most that they would conceed was that they had 'somehow failed me'. Why is this still happening to us in the 21st century? Anyone else had a similar experience? What can we do about it, and how can we prevent it happening for subsequent births? It's time that midwives stopped deciding for us how much pain relief we need and consult with us regarding how to make our births more comfortable. Not saying that all midwives are like this, but mine was a particular dragon.... I don't want this to turn into a debate on the pro's/cons of epidurals as this has been done to death elsewhere...
Epidurals lead to lower tearing rates, which no-one ever seems to mention.
I have heard some horror stories about uncontrolled pushing leading to severe damage. Epidurals can reduce that risk because the woman isn't so desperate to get the baby out, can slow down, listen etc.
From Canadian Globe and Mail:
But a new study out of Australia has found that an epidural may play a positive role in women's health long after the baby is delivered by reducing damage to the pelvic floor muscles.
Australian researchers used two sets of ultrasonic imaging on a group of almost 500 women undergoing their first pregnancy and planning vaginal birth one taken during pregnancy and one three to four months after childbirth.
Because damage to a woman's pelvic floor muscles during childbirth is known to be a risk factor for future health problems including collapse of the pelvic organs (pelvic organ prolapse) and incontinence, the researchers wanted to see whether style of birth played a role.
Of the 488 women in the study, published last week in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, about 13 per cent experienced avulsion, or tearing, of their levator, or pelvic floor muscles. Women who had had an epidural had a lower incidence of tearing. A forceps delivery was associated with the greatest risk of injury. (Not surprisingly, the women who had undergone a caesarian section had no pelvic floor injuries.)
Co-author Clara Shek of the Nepean Clinical School of medicine at the University of Sydney suggested the epidural may prevent premature pushing, which is known to cause damage. Another potential explanation may be that the muscles are simply relaxed and less likely to suffer trauma.
"When someone has an epi, they can't be left on their own." - tell that to the midwife who left me on my own for ten minutes, out of reach of the call button, while husband had gone off for food.
I've said to DH this time that firstly that midwife will NOT be involved at ANY stage of the birth, and secondly that we will make it plain to them when I'm admitted that if I am left alone with an epi for so much as a second I will SUE THE PANTS OFF THEM.
Liznay - just wanted to say well done for speaking out in the press This issue really is reaching a wider audience now, and it's good that it's being discussed. We can only hope that the experiences here are used positively in order to inform future practice.
I am just beginning to consider a second DC after a horrible first experience and it is exactly this debate that terrifies me.
I was admitted for induction with pre eclampsia on 18 Dec and by 21 Dec had received every induction method and was on a syntocin drip in terrible pain. I had been kept awake every night for three nights for three hourly blood pressure checks and induced every day and was delerious with exhaustion. I consider this to be ample time and opportunity for the hospital to administer adequate pain control, ie an epi, which was in my birth notes as a request from the start and requested from me and OH from the beginning of the process. Still I was told they were 'too busy' with other cases. This says everything really. Too busy, too stretched, not able to cope or properly communicate.
I eventually got one, it didn't work, and DS was hauled out with forceps in theatre, scarring him and causing me to have require an operation 4 months later to repair the mess. This, amongst a catalogue of other reasons, is why I feel utterly let down. I haven't even considered going back for a discussion about this and the other problems I now have as a result as I'm absolutely paralysed with horror at the thought of going through it again verbally, let alone committing to another actual pregancy. In any case, judging by many of the experiences others here have had with feeding back to their hospitals, there would be no point as lessons don't seem to be learned do they?