What's the negative side of taking the drugs during childbirth?

(71 Posts)
weeblueberry Mon 26-Nov-12 16:26:37

I suspect this is a really stupid question that is going to have some incredibly obvious answers so apologies in advance.

It seems as though most mums nowadays at least attempt a natural birth before accepting any drug involvement. But having spoken to women of my mums generation (mum, my boss, my aunt) they've all said they accepted the drugs they were given and it didn't have any sort of adverse affect on the baby.

Now I'm sure there must be a downside. There must be something I'm being too dim to notice, but what exactly is the reason for having a natural birth as opposed to accepting pain relief?

The only thing that's truly put me off so far was that we were watching an episode of OBEM and as soon as the mother was given the drugs she suddenly had this horrible glazed over look in her eyes as though she wasn't with it at all. She managed to push etc but honestly looked as though she was on another planet.

So tell me ladies, other than being able to say 'I did it naturally', what's the benefit to saying no to pain relief?

larrygrylls Mon 26-Nov-12 16:40:24

It is all statistical. If you take pain relief (especially epidural), you are statistically more likely to end up with a C section, due to decelleration of the baby's heartbeat. In addition, you cannot "feel" when to push (not that I would know, being a guy!), so you are more likely to tear etc. But, it is all statistical. The majority of women who accept pain relief will deliver vaginally and without major complications. In addition, the baby may be "sleepy" when delivered which, again, statistically, can lead to problems getting breast feeding established. On the other hand (here, I am being anecdotal) our first son was delivered under GA by C section after an epidural leading to decels. He breast fed just fine for 9 months. I think that you have to read and try to understand the stats around the process and make a decision that you are personally comfortable with. Don't be pressurised either way as I suspect that psychological problems due to births not going well are at least contributed to by women feeling that they have been railroaded in one particular direction.

In France, it is normal practice to schedule an epidural in all births and our Anglo Saxon stoicism is very much looked upon as the equivalent of deciding against pain relief for an appendectomy and just biting down on a sponge instead.

MikeLitoris Mon 26-Nov-12 16:51:53

With ds i didnt want an epidural (scared of the needle) but was kpen to other suggestions. I coped fine with just gas and air.

When i had my next two i knew I could cope without any of the serious pain relief so didnt ask for it.

With ds I had no urge to push and it took an hour of struggling with pushing to get him out.

When I had both dds i had the really strong urge and they were both born in minutes. I think an epidural would take that urge away.

Also I found i recovered almost instantly whereas a few people I know that had pethidine or epidural where not able to get mobile straight away.

GoldenGreen Mon 26-Nov-12 16:55:41

Every method of pharmacological pain relief is an intervention, and therefore it interferes in some way with the process of birth. Sometimes the interference can have a small overall negative effect, such as slowing down the birth by a short time. Sometimes in can have a very marked effect, such as reducing the mother's mobility to such an extent that she finds it very difficult to birth the baby.

For many women, the helpfulness of something like an epidural outweights the disadvantages. Others wish they had been told what the risks were.

The Babycentre and NCT websites are both good sources of research and evidence based information.

Rachel130690 Mon 26-Nov-12 16:58:53

I had gas and air, and diamorphine during my induced labour. I found the diamorphine made me very tired and when it came to pushing I was tired and started crying as I didn't want to push sad

It also made my ds very sleepy for first few days.

I would use both these methods again as I found them excellent.

5madthings Mon 26-Nov-12 17:00:29

re affect on the baby, pethidine if taken to close to delivery can lead to a 'floppy baby' who is sleepy, wont feed well and may have breathing difficulties.

gas and air i think is ok as its out of your system so quickly.

an epidural can lead to a cascade of interventoin and generally you are then sitting/on your back which is not great for natural progression of labour. it can also affect your blood pressure which can then affect the baby.

ScienceOfSellingYouselfShort Mon 26-Nov-12 17:01:15

I was given pethidine but DS was born less than hour later. Both of us were pretty dozy after, especially DS. Because of that he didn't feed much in the first 24 hours and as the hospital let me leave without giving him a proper feed (we both tried so hard to get him to, at one point she had him under my arm to feed the opposite way to no avail - he was too out of it to focus properly).

For that reason I probably won't have pethidine again, I only did because gas and air made me feel extremely nauseous. My lack of giving him a good feed and not being given time with midwife to establish a good latch led to me giving up breastfeeding when he was 10 days old. In hindsight I wish I never had that pethidine.

ScienceOfSellingYouselfShort Mon 26-Nov-12 17:03:09

x-post 5madthings!

Pethidine scares me as I wouldn't want to feel out of control/scared and not be able to untake it IYSWIM.
As for an epidural... Catheter. <shivers> 'nuff said.

ScienceOfSellingYouselfShort Mon 26-Nov-12 17:07:48

Pethidine didn't make me feel out of control at all. DP said I had an almost look of serenity after having it. Some of my labour is slightly hazy but it happened so quick after I had it I'm not sure if that's down to speed of labour or drugs!

flybynight Mon 26-Nov-12 17:08:13

Can I echo was Science says? I had pethidine - or meptid at any rate - with my first but similarly, he was born half an hour later (thats half an hour of vomiting and eyerolling, thanks to the drugs). He was very sleepy and wouldn't feed at all. I wasn't allowed out for three days as a result, and even then the breastfeeding was always wobbly at best. I fed him for four months, but he never put on acceptable amounts of weight.

The subsequent three babies I had without analgesia, the last one at home. Much better and no feeding problems (this is also down to experience, however).

WantAnOrange Mon 26-Nov-12 17:51:02

Gas and air made me unable to talk clearly so I needed DH there to be my voice (it is wonderfull stuff though!).

Pethedine made me vomit and passed onto my baby, causing feeding problems for the first couple of days. These days are pretty critical if you want to breast feed and DS never managed to latch correctly.

An epidural makes you numb from the waist down and therefore unable to walk. This level of being out of control would really scare me (I have general anxiety disorder), as would have a massive needle in my spine!

There are other risk factors too, especially with an epidural, so I would adivse doing some proper research and making an informed choice. The midwife at my ante-natal class was very upfront about the risks and benefits, but if your's isn't, dont be afraid to ask.

69bex69 Mon 26-Nov-12 19:30:36

Since having the epidural (nearly 10 years ago now) I have spasms in my back randomly which the NHS will not accept any responsibility for. I was pressured into one, was not aware of the risks and did not sign a consent form. Agree with above poster and make an informed choice.

Because pethedine and gas and air do fuck all for the pain but just quieten you down whilst reducing your ability to work with your body and baby for an optimal outcome.

Epidurals ARE pain relievers but put you completely out of touch with your body and stop you being able to work with it. They stop you producing the hormones that flood your own and your baby's body for an optimal start.

But, it is very hard to have a baby in our culture without needing pain relief. Maternity services are often stretched, disempowering and frightening.

cansu Mon 26-Nov-12 19:53:58

Tbh I dont see many negative effects of gas and air or pethadine. I think epidurals clearly can affect labour and lead to more surgical intervention. It also can impact on how well you feel afterwards and your ability to care for your baby afterwards. With my first birth i was so numb that i couldnt get out Of bed to look after my baby and ended up collapsed on the floor after trying to get myself to loo! However it all depends on individual circumstances. If you are finding labour too painful and are therefore unable to labour effectively then an epidural may well be a good option. There may be medical reasons why an epidural is appropriate. When meds are given is also crucial, I had pethadine earlyish and therefore was very much aware of what was owing on when it came time to push. I also found gas and air very effective in managing my contractions. I think it is so individual that it is hard to generalise from other peoples experience. Personally I think you get informed before birth but keep an open mind and reserve the right to change your mind according to circumstances as the time!

MrsHoarder Mon 26-Nov-12 20:03:52

I had an epidural because I couldn't cope. It was wonderful, and I would have needed serious pain killers later when they stitched me up anyway.

Note that the reason I was in so much pain was the same reason as why I needed further interventions and stitching, trying to avoid the cascade of interventions wouldn't have saved me from it.

They stop you feeling all of that lovely pain...oh that was actually the upside for me grin

I went into my labour with no plan/expectations and took things as it came. I felt I needed a little extra help on top of the TENS machine and went with diamorphine and I felt like it helped.

Saying that though...one persons amazing relief is another persons awful experience. You have to make the decision for yourself with yourself in mind...

mayhew Mon 26-Nov-12 20:19:31

Negatives
: gas and air. Makes some people nauseous, though this usually gets better after 3 contractions. Can make you disinhibited to the point of hilarity, you may well enjoy this or be mortified (it wasn't called "laughing gas" for nothing). Not as effective if technique is wrong, might need some mw coaching. Much loved by the majority of UK mums.
: pethidine/ other opiates. Once its in you have to wait for it to wear off (2 hrs) , if you don't like the effect. Nausea, drowsiness, confusion. Crosses the placenta and sedates the baby. Some seem very affected, others not at all. About 25% say it gives great relief, 25% say it disappoints, 50% say some help.
: Epidural. Immobility even with the low-dose versions, you don't move much. Major medicalisation with IV, monitor, catheter, BP checks. 50% chance of instrumental if vaginal birth due to loss of pelvic floor tone, immobility and weakened urge to push. Wears off in 2-6 hrs. Small chance of temporary nerve damage (weakness, numbness), very small chance of permanent nerve damage. Small chance of pressure sore from immobility.

weeblueberry Mon 26-Nov-12 20:40:45

Thank you everyone. I admit I'm very unlikely to want an epidural (I mean, I'll want it but would rather avoid it grin) so it was mainly the pethidine I'm curious about.

Am really grateful to everyone who's responded smile

Rachel130690 Mon 26-Nov-12 21:04:42

I can't believe people are still offered pethidine, the hospital I went to stopped using it years ago as research found it did nothing to help with labour pains and now they offer diamorphine, which is amazing.

Wolfiefan Mon 26-Nov-12 21:05:50

What starlight said!

ellangirl Mon 26-Nov-12 21:12:00

I had diamorphine with my first, only gas and air with my second. I was dead against having diamorphine again. It was good to calm me down but I hated that I felt too woozy to stay mobile and ended up lying on the bed on my back which I didn't want. There were no adverse effects on baby- I had it about 4 hours before he was born.

FergusSingsTheBlues Mon 26-Nov-12 21:14:38

With pethedine, i felt unable to even articulate how i felt which was horrible.
Epidural was desperately needed at 30 hours, but it was a real hindrance when it came to push.
I had a 37hr back to back labour, so i probably have a warped view, but just dont understand why anybody wouldnt take everything available. Before i had my baby i was determind to make it without drugs and very tough physically, so really, id say above all, dont put pressure on yourself. Its really not a competition. Downside to a bad labour experience can be post trauma issues, so do whatever it takes to make it easier for you.

baublesandbaileys Mon 26-Nov-12 21:16:46

Pethedine can make the baby sleepy and less instinctive so it doesn't turn into the correct positions during labour if it's not already in them. I didn't know that and had some even though my baby was in a bad position - of course it then stayed there and didn't move around to the correct position and I had a CS.

I've also heard that it can make for a sleepy baby after birth too, which can interfere with establishing feeding.

I won't be having pethedine in future

Welovecouscous Mon 26-Nov-12 21:18:19

Bf problems are more likely with pethedine and other painkilling drugs. DS latched really well luckily for me - I only had gas and air and I genuinely didn't find the pain worse than was manageable.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now