Epidurals

(40 Posts)
forgetmenots Fri 04-Jan-13 12:32:49

Starting to think worry about the birth, and reading about pain relief. This is (obviously!) DC1! Talk to me about epidurals, please - full or mobile epidurals.

Can you feel crowning, or tears, when you've had one?
Does the needle hurt, does the catheter hurt?
Does having one outweigh the risk of forceps/ventouse (not sure how relatively painful everything is).
Can you actually get some rest when you've had one?

After reading some threads, it sounds like more and more mums are thinking about ELCS and so I'm just trying to weigh it all up... realising that every birth is different and birth plans go out the window but it seems like there aren't many positive experiences out there, so trying to be as realistic as I can smile

TIA

baremadness Fri 04-Jan-13 12:45:50

It really is swings and roundabouts. I had an epidural and it was fantastic for the pain but I also had a lot of intervention and a potentially very dodgy situation and I will never know if the choices I made lef to that situation or not.

I dont know if the epidural led to what happened or if it saved my life.

You have to weigh up the pros and cons and do what is right for you.

OhGood Fri 04-Jan-13 12:58:12

This is a bit of a rushed message as I am meant to be WORKING and MUST START.

I had an excellent epidural, at 9cm dilated (had been 9cm dilated for 8 hours or so.) The process was a bugger, because they have to stick you with a needle while you are contracting. Did not feel needle, but definitely felt trying to keep very still and in weird hunched over position while mid-contraction.

Could not feel legs, or move legs, guess I must have had catheter - sooooo did not care about any of those things. Seriously - could not have cared less and did not notice. You can't think about childbirth with your rational planning brain on.

Epidural was up for about 4 hours-ish while they put me on syntocin drip - 2 hours to 10 cm, then they leave you for an hour (or was my hospital's policy) to rest before you push. I did not 'top up' once during that time (there is a button you can press if you want more drugs.)

When it came to push I could feel contractions as painless tightenings, could feel to push, felt the baby moving down, pushed like a dream, easy stage.

Things to think about - my baby was early, so I was already monitored and strapped up and needled up to the hilt, so the medical intervention stuff was already happening and did not come as an invasion or shock.

As it wore off I could hideous, uncontrollable shakes, for 15 mins or so. Did not care, had baby.

I was left with a numb patch the size of my palm on left thigh. Totally freaked me out but only noticed it 2 months later. Has gone away now.

Last thing to think about - totally effective pain relief. Went from screaming (sorry but 9 cms is quite painful imo, sure you will have sneeze birth) to having lovely excited chat with DH.

Good luck! And if you want an epidural, have an epidural. You will still get a baby. Be strong in your own mind and don't think you are wimping out. Do whatever will get you the best experience. It's YOUR labour.

cravingcake Fri 04-Jan-13 13:38:56

I had an epidural during my labour. My contractions were strong from the start (was already on the maternity ward as my waters had broke and they had started induction with gel pessary) and after trying a bath and having pethidine (or could have been diamorphine) I asked for an epidural. I must have been somewhere around 6-7cm.

I was lucky in that I didn't need to wait very long as there was no other emergency's but it still took an hour from when I asked for it to when it started working (takes 20 mins to set up and site the line etc).

I ended up with a traumatic forceps delivery and a very bad tear but this we now know is due a bad or unlucky combination of things - i'm hypermobile which makes epidural less effective & more likely to tear.

Afterwards (about a month or two) when I was discussing things with my partner I asked him about the epidural and if maybe having it could have lead to the events which happened during our labour and he said No, I NEEDED that epidural. He knows me well enough to know that I could not have coped without it and for that I know I made the right choice for me.

However, do be aware that they don't always top up the epidural and in my case it started wearing off when I was pushing and they wouldn't top it up so I felt EVERYTHING, after having a couple of hours of relief it made the pain 10 times worse - but that could be also because of my tear, and yes I felt it. The relief from the pain is instant as soon as the baby is out.

zeldapinwheel Fri 04-Jan-13 13:40:22

I had an epidural that only worked on one side, so one side was numb and the otherside was agony. When they topped it up later it worked fully. However not once did I feel the urge to push, which probably contributed to the forcep delivery and episiotomy that I needed.

forgetmenots Fri 04-Jan-13 13:51:01

Thanks for the posts, really helpful to hear arrange of experiences. zelda did you feel the forcep/episiotomy once the epidural was fully working? Realise you will Lilly have felt nothing but after it wore off, but I'm never sure if it stops contraction pain or literally all pain... (Sorry if that's a stupid question).

fishcalledwonder Fri 04-Jan-13 13:54:05

I had pleaded for an epidural at 10cm and it was amazing. Could feel huge pressure of baby and so knew when to push, but no pain. Had lots of stitches but couldn't feel a thing.

poshme Fri 04-Jan-13 14:00:12

Hi OP.
I've had 3 epidurals.
DC1 I had planned water &G&A. Had G&A, pethidine, tried water bath but after 2 days in labour I went for epi. Worst thing- keeping still while they put it in. Didn't feel needle. (I'd always said no epidural b4 birth as I hate needles).
Best thing- no pain. At all. But couldn't feel contractions at all for pushing so had to be talked through it. Pushed for 2 hours, 2nd degree tear.
My right leg stayed dead for about 8 hours after birth- couldnt stand/ bear weight on it. All fine now.
DC2- epidural didn't work properly so only pain relief on one side. Still better than nothing. Needed G&A for pushing stage. No tears.
DC3 induction. I insisted on epidural being sited before drip started. Worst part: anesthetist explaining process to student whilst doing it. (I sang loudly to drown her out!) it totally freaked me to have it be sited while I was not in pain due to my needle stress.
Best thing- no pain at all, very quick labour- was chatting & laughing with DH throughout. Pushing stage- I could feel her coming, but with no pain- totally amazing. And I breathed her out. No pushing at all- I'd never really believed that could happen. No tear.
I know epis can lead to interventions, but for me they were great (even DC2 where it was only partial). I have loping labours, and epi enabled me to cope.
Hth

poshme Fri 04-Jan-13 14:02:32

Sorry didn't actually answer Qs.
Couldn't feel crowning or tears or stitches.
did get rest- dozed in some cases after epi in.
Catheter didn't hurt- they put it in and took it out as needed. Strange, but not painful.

trustissues75 Fri 04-Jan-13 14:03:04

Hi there

I had an epidural at 3cm (I'd been in labor about 21 hours at that point) I went from 3-10 cm in less than 15 minutes, had a bit of a scary moment when DS HR dropped to almost nothing. Laid me on my side, consultant popped her head in, MW's gave her the thumbs up...on we went.

The needle going in was fine - had to have it twice because the anaesthesiologist was not happy with how it felt going in the first time. It didn't hurt - more like a strange electric shock going down one leg and along spine. Pain relief was amazing but could feel everything apart form pain. DS was out in less than 5 pushes with MW's letting me run the show - pushing when I felt the need, stopping when I felt the need...none of this silly holding breath crap etc.

I'd highly recommend it but I'm just one story and everyone is different.

I had one with dd1 and it didn't work. On top of that, the anaesthetist missed the epidural space with the first attempt and I ended up with a horrendous headache for a week post-delivery. The headache was so bad, I could not be upright. They tried to correct it post-delivery by injecting some of my blood into my spine (to plug the leak) but this failed. As I was flat on my back for a week, my milk took a long time to come in. I ended up with a forceps delivery and lost 3 pints of blood (had a transfusion). And my episiotomy stitches ruptured after a few days. However, it is difficult to say for certain whether the epidural caused the need for intervention. It really p**ses me off that I went through all that and it made no difference painwise angry

I also had a dull backache across the area the epidural was inserted for several months post-birth.

This did not stop me asking for one during labour with dd2 though!!! They wouldn't give me one though as I was too far on...

mrsdeedee Fri 04-Jan-13 19:40:07

I got it as soon as I went to the delivery room, I was 4 cm. I'd been awake all the previous night with early labour pains in the hospital (waters were gone and am strep B pos so had to stay for ABX) and had also spent the entire day walking the hospital so I was exhausted and unable to cope once the contractions started properly. It was bliss, zero pain. I slept which was badly needed. I slowly dilated to 9cm but got stuck there till they found a consultant who would allow a sytocin drip to get me to the pushing stage (VBAC, so original consultant would not allow drip). Episiotomy, failed vacuum and forceps delivery. A lot of stitches and pain afterwards, I could also feel the vacuum and forceps which was terrible. I couldn't get out of bed for several hours and ended up with a bad kidney infection.

I am pg again and aiming to stay at home (if waters don't break) as long as possible in the hopes of arriving shortly before delivery and am hoping to manage without the epidural but I am not saying no for sure to it at this stage either.

Ushy Fri 04-Jan-13 21:05:42

just a tip - try to get the epidural early because it is more likely to fail if it is given late.

Also, you may be told epidurals increase instrumental deliveries but it is only a very small amount. Most of the complications are because a difficult labour caused the woman to ask for the epidural rather than the epidural causing the difficult labour.

Epidurals reduce the incidence of tearing caused by uncontrollable pushing.

There is a lot of pressure from natural birth supporters and some midwives to put you off epidurals in my experience. I've had one and it was brillliant - natural birth was a nightmare! Have a read of Linda Geddes book bumpology. Good luck.

stargirl1701 Fri 04-Jan-13 21:14:50

I had dc1 in Sep. I was convinced I wanted an epidural so booked into the regional teaching hospital rather than the local midwife unit.

I knew I had to get to 5cm at home to get into the hospital. I laboured at home with paracetamol, a bath, a birth ball and a TENS machine from 2am till 4pm. Phoned the midwife as I had had no show or waters but the contractions were much more intense. She advised me to go to the local midwife unit and undergo an internal exam. If I was 5cm then come through to the hospital.

I was 8cm. Bloody stunned! The midwife unit could only let me go to hospital using an ambulance so I chose to stay. I got into the pool and dd was born 4 hours later.

This was not the birth I imagined or planned. My advice would be to keep all your options open. You just never know.

MoonHare Fri 04-Jan-13 21:16:36

Hi OP - you say it seems there aren't many positive experiences out there, just wanted to help you find some because there are actually lots of positive birth stories out there, some involving epidurals some not. Check out the other thread currently running and www.tellmeagoodbirthstory.com

Nothing wrong with exploring all the possibilities and options beforehand as you say things don't always go as hoped but do remember that a straightforward birth is usual and not just lucky.

forgetmenots Fri 04-Jan-13 21:22:38

Thanks everyone, this is really useful. Amazing to see the range in experience.

stargirl definitely keeping options open, just want to have some idea what to put on my plan which will probably go out the window smile thanks too ushy for book tip and moonhare for website, think perhaps reading a lot online the tendency is for people to share tricky or bad experiences rather than mundane, fine ones and it's got me worrying.

notcitrus Fri 04-Jan-13 21:39:23

I had epidural with both babies as SPD got incredibly painful after some hours of labour and I was unable to walk beforehand (this is pretty rare!)

First time, had it after 15 hours of labour in the pool etc - pain relief was complete but I could with difficulty move my knees/feet when looking at them. It needed topping up every 2 hours when I felt the pain again, and this and the fetal monitor got out of sync so I was waking every hour or more all night (got epi at 7pm). Needle going in felt like the typical scratch of any needle, didn't feel catheter etc. Noon next day we managed to help me to all-fours to try pushing and I could vaguely feel pressure, but nothing happened, so had ventouse delivery in theatre. Didn't really feel anything, and they took time over my stitches as I'd asked for an expert to do any cutting and stitches - was about 45 min.

I did have the shivers for 2-3 days, but no headache.

With baby 2, had epi within 30 min of getting to hospital, pain relief total but my legs were totally floppy too, so we couldn't get me onto all fours at all. So they did ventouse again rather than have me and consultants hang about all night, and stitches. Again no pain, very quick recovery, no shivers this time. I did throw up a lot after both births but I think that's just me!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Fri 04-Jan-13 21:48:43

I cannot remember the exact details of cms and when etc, but it was great.

I was struggling with the pain and it gave me a few hours relief before I pushed.

I was in delivery suite as had marconium (sp) in my waters, so I had to lie there for monitoring. But personally I wasn't worried about interventions or moving about.

My main concern is getting to hosp this time to have an epidural. Last time it was only 8 hours.

DS slept through the first night (to give a false sense of security!), not sure if all babies do or if it was something to do with epidural.

WutheringTights Fri 04-Jan-13 21:51:03

Didn't have an epidural but did have two in and out catheters (couldn't pass urine and it was making it harder to push the baby out). I had no pain relief for either one and I didn't feel a thing when they did them.

cierzo Fri 04-Jan-13 22:23:52

I'm due in a few weeks. In my pre-natal class they explained it the 3 main painkillers.

G&A don't take away the pain, but it makes your mind think in other stuff, like if you were drunk or tipsy like. Side effects, headache next day for example. Some people can cope with that, some people not, or actually hate it. a good friend of mine had her baby a couple of weeks ago, and she said it didn't work for her, and had to for an epidural.

Pethidine is an opioid analgesic, the midwife said that they tend to use it, when the labour is long and you need a break for rest or sleep, saying that it does reach to your baby, and sometimes can be born a bit sleepy, but they given them something to take that sleepyness away.

The Epidural can be put at any point, but the issue is they need to get an anesthesiologist, and sometimes they are busy in the operating room, also they don't tend to give you if you are quite dilatated and also depends of the hospital you are in, some are frankly reluctant to put it on. Also whatever the myths you hear, the epidural doesn't reach the baby, and it's not the mayor cause for the use of forceps and more intervention. You may have used other ways of pain relieve or nothing and still finishing with ventouse and so on.

We've been told in my 36 weeks app today that if I've got it in my birth plan, I should have it, my idea is to request it as soon as I enter the hospital. I can't cope with pain well, and can't think straight with pain, taking that off, will help me a lot. My friend said that she begged for one, and it was a bliss after she had it. She only had a headache next day but was given some paracetamol or something.

RooneyMara Sat 05-Jan-13 13:15:13

Well, I've sort of come full circle in regard to epidurals.

I had one in my first labour about 9 1/2 years ago, and afterwards I felt like I had cheated. I don't know quite why, but anyway, it took away all pain and sensation and I did manage to push but couldn't feel it and nearly had ventouse.
I couldn't feel my legs at all all day, very shaky etc, couldn't reach to pick up the baby when he cried and no one helped...it wasn't a great experience.
But still I didn't have an awful lot of pain during labour for which I was grateful.

Second was born at home with no pain relief at all, it was excrutiating and I realised then what I had escaped. Though I know some people find labour is NOT that bad. I was really traumatised.

Third time I wasn't coping well with the pain and asked for one, I kept asking but the MW didn't seem to be hurrying - she kept saying it'll be here soon, I was 6cm on arrival, she even gave me a sweep which I didn't want her to do, to speed it up - I just wanted some relief. Eventually I was given an epidural about 20-30 minutes before the baby arrived, it didn't seem to work that well, to me - though it definitely started to by the time he was coming out, and I could feel his head coming out and then the rest of him, it just lessened the pain. So in hindsight thatwas quite good though I was scared, at the time, that it wasn't going to work properly like the first one I'd had.

I could feel my legs and stand up/walk a little after, no other side effects, no instruments needed... it was a total Godsend tbh.

I am never doing it again without. And I don't feel like I cheated at all...I'd advise anyone and everyone to have pain relief. I found the G&A entirely useless, I just kept trying to give it back to them, it did nothing at all for me.

TuttiFrutti Sat 05-Jan-13 14:19:22

Epidurals are the Rolls Royce of pain relief, and the ONLY thing which actually takes away the pain completely. If I ever had to go through a vaginal birth again, I would have one like a shot.

The benefits are huge. The risks are very small. They make absolutely no difference to your need for a cs, and no difference to the length of first stage labour. They very slightly increase your risk of needing forceps/ ventouse, but then they decrease your risk of tearing.

honeytea Sat 05-Jan-13 17:03:00

I had a mobile epidural and I can't see a reason not to have one. I live in Sweden and they only give mobile epidurals, I didn't do much research around birth before I went into labour as I thought it would scare me so I assumed an epidural would make me painfree and on my back in a bed.

I refused a synsotine (sp) drip until I had an epidureal, I was coping fine with the pain up to 4-5cm with just gas and air but they wanted to speed things along as I had very high blood pressure.

I can't remember the epidural going in because I was stuggling with the pain of a contraction, the Dr was great, he just put it in really fast. He was in the room less than 10 mins after I said I wanted an epidural but I think that was because I was rufusing the drip untill I had the epidural in place.

They started the drip at the same time as the epidural and I had about 30 mins where I had very mild contractions and then the pain was about the same as before the drip so I think the epidural and drip canceled each other out.

I could still walk around, I felt no different on my feet, the only odd feeling was when they put the epidural in me it felt like they were injecting ice into me, very odd but also strangely soothing.

They topped the epidural up a few times but let it run out for the pushing stage, I also used gas and air alongside the epidural and I stopped that for the pushing stage too. I wanted to feel my son be born and I did feel him crown and I did feel the tear but it was in no way the most painful bit of the day.

The only down side was that they made me have a shower and wee after the birth and I couldn't wee so they had to use a catheter to drain my bladder, it was a really frustrating feeling not being able to wee when I had needed to wee constantly for most of my pregnancy.

My DS was very big (10 pounds) his head took a long time to come down and I feel that my body's instinct to be upright was really inportant, I was glad that I still had feeling, I couldn't even sit down without extream pain never mind lie on a bed, I think if I had had a full epidural and ended up in bed there would have been a high chance of having to have a vontose/forcepts delivery.

Good luck, I loved giving birth, I hope you have a lovely experience too smile

zeldapinwheel Sat 05-Jan-13 18:02:21

I didn't feel a thing with episiotomy/ forceps once it was working, just pushed when they told me too. Was actually a bit surprised it was all over so quickly when they handed me dd!

Loislane78 Sun 06-Jan-13 20:36:37

Zero to 10cm in about 8 hrs for me. Hurt but i was coping initially until an exam revealed anterior lip (bit of cervix in the way so pushing against it). Contractions and labour slowed so was put on drip - got epidural before drip.

The contractions still 'hurt' and I could feel to push but totally manageable after epidural. Pushed like a mad woman for over 2 hours and due to experienced MW managed to avoid forceps or a c-section. Some stitches but didn't feel those.

Catheter no biggie - I requested it was removed after a few hours. No side effects. DD born at 11am and was walking by about 8pm, went in shower etc.

Keep mind/options open smile

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