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?

nailak Mon 26-Nov-12 21:22:15

pethedine made me totally out of it, I was asleep and woke up for contractions, at one point had dr and loads of people in room, but i didnt even know what was going on, to be able to make informed decisions or give informed consent about stuff, i just was sleeping,

and then my dd wouldnt bf, i had to wake her up to feed stayed in hospital 3 days as she woul;dnt feed and finally they gave her bottle and said if we didnt give bottle we couldnt leave, i never established bf

OverlyWordyHurdyGurdy Mon 26-Nov-12 21:28:19

For me, the big worry was/is the interference with breastfeeding. Plus I don't buy that gas and air has no effect on the baby (I had a shitload last time).

Starlight I love, love, love you and your power. You caught your DC last time, didn't you? I'm due again in feb and am really hoping for a home birth and to avoid the G&A. Can you send me some powerful vibes, please? grin

OverlyWordyHurdyGurdy Mon 26-Nov-12 21:30:44

I agree about G&A not actually helping with the pain - both it and pethidine are what's called 'dissociative' anaesthetics. They disconnect you from the pain so that you forget it quickly. And they made me feel like a reeling drunk.

showmethetoys Wed 28-Nov-12 19:03:44

I had pethedine about 48 hours into my labour and DS wasnt born for another 24 hours so it had worn off by then and he was fine latching on etc
BUT
the injection for the pethedine KILLED! I was in the full throes of a long and painful (although not progressing) labour and I was off my head on gas and air and I still screamed when she stuck that needle in my leg and I still remember it now! It made me go completely gaga as well, I was naming my contractions apparently!

Ended up with an epidural as had to have the induction drip in the end and my mum (and ex midwife) had said that if I needed an induction just take the epidural. But I wouldnt go for one of them again unless I was in a similar situation again.

But the gas and air. Oh the gas and air.................I am looking forward to having another baby just so that I can get on that stuff again!

showmethetoys Wed 28-Nov-12 19:06:26

an ex midwife

curmit Wed 28-Nov-12 19:14:22

I had Pethidine - despite not wanting it all - as there was no anaesthetist, ergo, no epidural available. I was still hearing my own voice echoing in my head 3 days later. Am sure they gave me too strong a dose. It made me sick, I vomited constantly during my labour. sad It didn't take the pain away one bit - DON'T take it unless you are having a very long labour, and the pains are stopping you from getting any rest - that's what it's supposed to be for. It helps mums sleep when labour is dragging on for days. I was given it in the throws of my labour and it made me feel out of control, and out of my mind. As others have said - when it came to the pushing stage, I kept falling asleep. It's opiates at the end of the day.

AndiMac Wed 28-Nov-12 19:20:20

I had pethidine with DD1. I went into the birthing centre with a "no drugs" birthing plan, but after 3 days of contractions, I was a little more open to the idea!

I went in on Friday night, but the contractions weren't progressing anymore than they had on the days before. But because my hindwaters had broken and they weren't busy, they let me stay. The midwife suggested at about 1 or 2 in the morning some pethidine just to help me get some rest, as I needed to recharge before "proper" labour started.

It was brilliant for helping me sleep properly for a few hours. But then I woke up in proper labour and had trouble explaining what was going on as I was really dozy and out of it. By about 6 or 7 in the morning it had totally worn off and I was fully up and aware for the birth, which was about 8am.

So if you needed it, I'd say take it, but it does have side effects that you might not be happy with. It's a bit of weighing up your options really, which is worse, the pain or the doziness?

AndiMac Wed 28-Nov-12 19:21:59

Ooh, cross post with curmit pretty much.

HowToChangeThis Wed 28-Nov-12 19:26:20

My mum had pethidine before my brother was born. He lived a couple of hours. She doesn't remember him being alive because she was so out of it.

I don't fancy an epidural because I don't want the cascade of intervention that often follows.

I had dd just using gas and air and it meant we were both clear headed and I could feed her straight after the birth. I think birth is a natural process, not comparable to an operation and I don't want to risk more negative consequences than necessary.

This time I'm going for breech VB. I'm hoping to do it on fas and air but accept I may need an epidural to avoid pushing too early.

mrscog Wed 28-Nov-12 19:33:01

I had gas and air with DS, and planned to go straight to epidural if gas and air wasn't enough...it was! I would echo what others have said about working though the nausea that the first couple of puffs gives you and also making sure you're using it properly - I found it amazing to help me though the contractions, but other friends said that it didn't work at all, but I had a fantastic midwife who coached me on how to use it.

minifingers Wed 28-Nov-12 22:01:16

The worst thing about pethidine is that a really big proportion of women find it's pretty useless as an analgesic. To the point that the society of obstetric anaethetists rates it as less effective at relieving pain over all than gas and air.

scarlettsmummy2 Wed 28-Nov-12 22:06:27

I had pethidine first time- took second dose too late and was out of it for the first couple of hours after baby was born, second time water birth, just gas and air, much better.

HarlettOScara Wed 28-Nov-12 22:32:20

I had a meeting with an anaethetist a few weeks before my due date. He very clearly stated that pethedine had little or no painkilling properties but helped to relax/calm some women.

I didn't want anything but gas and air and intended to remain as mobile as possible but I ended up being induced and with a scalp monitor attached to baby so was confined to bed anyway so opted for epidural which was lovely and allowed me to rest and recoup some energy after 2 sleepless nights in early labour. It wore off just before I was fully dilated so I could feel my contractions and was able to very effectively push baby out with no intervention. I also had gas and air in acive labour and before epidural and again once the epidural had started to wear off. I don't rate it's painkilling much but I think it helped me to focus on my breathing which helped in coping with the contractions and made me feel a bit pissed

DD was born at 6.30pm. I was back on the ward at about 9.30pm and up and about by midnight. Physically, I could have been up and about sooner as I had almost full feeling in my legs much sooner but I had to wait for someone to come and remove the catheter. I felt absolutely fine after it and DD breastfed really well from minutes after birth so no serious effect on her either.

Smorgs Thu 29-Nov-12 00:18:30

Can I also speak up for epidurals? I recently gave birth to ds1 in France where, as someone said earlier, epidurals are the norm, mainly because no other pain relief like g&a, pethadine etc is available. I was adamant I did not want an epidural as, like many on this thread have said, I thought it would lead to more and more intervention and would slow things down. But in fact the opposite was true for me. I was induced but wouldn't dilate so after 4 hours of fairly painful regular contractions I was advised to take the epidural. Within an hour I was at 6cm and another hour 9cm. I could still feel and move my legs, it was just from my stomach to top of thighs that felt rather like your mouth feels when you've been to the dentist to have a filling and they give you an injection. It made me feel very warm and fuzzy and I had a huge rush of love for my husband and the doctors and nurses! but I was completely conscious throughout and had loads of energy for pushing, which took 25mins and no tears just a little scratch. I could just about feel when to push but I had had it topped up so if I'd let it wear off I would have felt more. I gave birth on my back but sitting up, which I also hadn't wanted, but that was fine too.
All in all I have really happy memories of giving birth and wanted to do it all over again straight after!

coldcupoftea Thu 29-Nov-12 00:35:08

The good thing about gas and air is that as soon as you stop breathing it in, it wears off. So you are in control. I thought gas and air was great, it totally worked for me and took the edge off the pain.

The thing that scares me about pethidine/epidural is the whole cascade of intervention- I know quite a few people who went from pethidine to epidural to forceps/ventouse and all sorts of complications from that.

Also the thought of that huge needle.... <shudders>

WaterBiscuit Thu 29-Nov-12 00:36:04

I had an epidural. It was fine. I'd had about 30 hours of bloody painful first stage labour by then and was knackered. I spent the time getting from 5 - 10cm quite happily pain free. I pushed really well when I neded to, could still feel that I needed to push and was actually quite grateful for the extra MW presence that's needed when you have an epidural. What's the advantage to doing it 'naturally'? Long-term, bugger all IMO. As for the supposedly inevitable 'cascade of intervention' - if it's needed, bring it on. I can't imagine my beautiful DD would be any less happy and healthy if I'd said no.

WaterBiscuit Thu 29-Nov-12 00:38:53

any MORE happy and healthy. Doh.

MrsHoarder Thu 29-Nov-12 07:37:19

cold the reason for the cascade of intervention is mostly because women in the UK who have an epidural are generally the ones who have "worse" labours. So have been induced or have a back to back labour or have pelvis shape problems.

The reason ds needed forceps was because he had the cord around his neck. Not because I couldn't feel when to push.

Rachel130690 Thu 29-Nov-12 09:41:41

I was induced and managed fine for at least 2 -3 hours with nothing mw was very impressed. I then was only on gas and air for around 2 hours. I asked for diamorphine at that point which was great. You could still feel contraction coming on but it was no longer sore.

The only thing you do feel very out of it and drunk.

I also wasn't confined to a bed, I couldn't walk about but I sat in a rocking chair for a good part. I also started to push on my knees facing the head of the bed but I found that useless and coped better lying down.

javotte Thu 29-Nov-12 15:31:23

I had a perfect epidural for DS. Birth was quick, I could still move my legs and push effectively.
Yet I much, much preferred my two painful drug-free births, as I felt I was the one giving birth, not the MW. It is not a word I normally use, but I felt empowered.

TiredofZombies Thu 29-Nov-12 15:43:21

I'm with 5madthings and Science.

I had pethidine and DD was born an hour later, if that. I was fine, it didn't make me ill or confused, and I was mobile immediately afterwards. But poor DD was hit with the full force of it, and really struggled to latch on. She did feed that night, but then went to sleep and was very sleepy for 24 hours, meaning she didn't feed enough and was then slightly jaundiced. I would prefer not to have it next time around, but an epidural scares the hell out of me.

Weissdorn Thu 29-Nov-12 15:57:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LaVolcan Thu 29-Nov-12 16:13:53

the reason for the cascade of intervention is mostly because women in the UK who have an epidural are generally the ones who have "worse" labours. So have been induced or have a back to back labour or have pelvis shape problems.

Or they don't get the support that they should be getting, so panic and their labours become worse than they needed to have been.

Absolutely agree with javotte's post of 15:43:21. I was OK with my daughter's birth with an epidural but couldn't help but feel I was a bit of a bystander and that if she could have been brought into the world without me, everyone would have been much happier. With my son, drug free, better for him and better and more empowering for me.

BionicEmu Fri 30-Nov-12 12:08:56

Last pregnancy I was admitted at 33 weeks in pre-term labour, at 2cm dilated. After 8 hours I was still at 2cm, so they were fairly sure baby wasn't coming soon and it was getting late, so they gave me 2 temazepam tablets and a shot of pethidine to try and get me some sleep.

An hour later I buzzed the MW because it had had zero effect on me. Turns out the only reason she hadn't come to check on me was because the combination of temazepam and pethidine should have knocked me out. She gave another pethidine injection, but still nothing. I remember her saying "how are you still awake, never mind fully with it?". It didn't take any pain away, didn't make me relaxed or sleepy or anything, I just had a sore thigh from the injections.

But, I have spinal & pelvic problems anyway. Before pregnancy I was taking diazepam and either morphine or tramadol, during pregnancy I had to reduce that to no diazepam and just dihydrocodeine. So the thinking was that I have a high tolerance to opioids.

Due to spinal issues, I can't have an epidural, so was supposed to get a remi-fentanyl PCA pump, but in the end just laboured with gas & air as once labour got going properly it was very quick.

Now pregnant with DC2 at a different hospital, who have said they don't use pethidine as it does nothing. They use diamorphine instead. Tolerance will probably still be an issue, so am hoping to actually have time to give the remi-fentanyl a go this time!

I don't know anybody who has used it, but it sounds v good. Seems to be effective pain relief as long as you use it properly, but has a very short half-life so doesn't affect the baby like pethidine can. It's not widely used though, but I don't know why, maybe cost? The only reason I have it as an option is because I can't have an epidural (& yep, that means if I need a CS I'll have to be knocked out under a general anaesthetic.). Having a 2-inch long deep tear repaired with only a local anaesthetic & gas and air was not fun though. (Don't know what degree tear I had, they never said. Perineum was intact, but I'd torn internally right through the vagina and muscle, the only thing left was the rectal mucosa.)

Dogsmom Fri 30-Nov-12 13:23:44

I was given pain relief leaflets from my MW this morning, they say (brief version):-

Gas & air - breathed in at start of a contraction and takes 20 secs to take effect, not harmful to you or baby but can make you feel dry and nauseous if usd for a long period so better used later in labour than the sole source throughout, some women feel happy or weepy but this wears off as soon as you stop using it.

Injection ie Pethidine - Can be used alone or inconjunction with gas or TENS, pain not relieved completely and some women have more benefit that others, can cause nausea so anti nausea drug often given at same time.
Baby may be sleepy. Can be given every 4 hours.

Epidural - Most effective form of pain relief, inserted into spine after local anaesthetic, pain relief within 10-20 minutes which is topped up throughout. Has little effect on the baby.
Possible side effects: Heavy legs so may find difficulty walking or passing urine, heart rate may drop but you are continuously monitored, shivering & itching.

Some studies suggest that epidurals in early labour may result in higher risk of forceps or caesarian however other studies have not confirmed this.
Recent research shows you are no more likely to suffer backache after having epidural for labour

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