Tell me about having an epidural please...

(17 Posts)
festive Wed 10-Apr-13 15:21:21

Was supposed to have one with DS1 for medical reasons but I refused to start off with one and said I would have one if i needed. Only trouble was when i decided it was badly needed there was no one available to give me one until very late on by which point the mw practically threw the anaesthetist out screeching 'it's too late we are going to have a baby in the next half hr!' Sadly it then took a further 2 hrs of pushing...
So am 35 weeks with dc2 and seeing the consultant in a weeks time, this time do I just go with an epidural from the outset? My DH is insistent I must have one as he can't bear to watch me go through that again. (Very long back to back labour, ginormous baby, plus my medical history of collapsed lungs. Ended up with a 2nd degree 'minor' tear and ventouse and a lot of pelvic floor damage including a prolapse. All on gas and air).
I am nervous about the pain but equally nervous about not being able to move or feel anything. And if cant feel anything wont that be likely to cause more damage to bits down below?
What does it feel like? How do you know when to push? Am also a big scaredy cat re needles... smile
Any advice or experiences welcome...

TheUnstoppableWindmill Wed 10-Apr-13 15:37:04

Hi,
Don't be scared of the epidural! You really won't be aware of the needle! I went in to labour with a completely open mind about pain-relief. Once I got into active labour I reached a point where any attempt to move off my back made me vomit, (and the gas and air was doing the same thing) so I thought 'sod it, I can't move around or get on my feet anyway, so why I am putting myself through the pain?' and asked for an epidural (actually, my lovely lovely midwife advised me that it was the right time to have one!). I can honestly say that it was brilliant. It made the whole labour and delivery a lovely experience. I was lucky to get one very quickly - many of my friends were kept waiting for up to 2 hours, so if you do decide to go for one, don't hang about!
You do then have to be hooked up and monitored, and lots of people don't like this, and find the medicalisation of the labour invasive and unsettling. I, however, actually found the constant sound of the baby's heartbeat very reassuring. They monitor your contractions, so even if you can't feel them you can tell that you're having them and know when to push - the midwife can watch the monitor and tell you if you can't see it yourself. Actually, I opted to allow my epidural to wear off a bit during the pushing phase, so could actually feel the contractions and a bit of the urge to push - that worked very well for me. I was also able to get up and walk about very soon afterwards.
The flip side of this is that I did have to have a ventouse and episiotomy. It's impossible to tell whether I would have had to have this anyway, but I believe that epidurals do make assisted deliveries more likely (possibly because you can't get up and use gravity or different positions to help). I've heard people say that there is evidence that they can slow down labour too, though this didn't happen to me. I'm not sure that feeling or not feeling will make any difference at all to the 'damage' - it's just the baby coming out that wreaks that havoc!
Whatever you decide, best of luck!

festive Wed 10-Apr-13 16:19:06

Thanks so much Unstoppable, very helpful.
Tbh I was monitored most of the time anyway for some reason - possibly cos it was all taking so long or poss cos he was back to back or poss cos I am also strep b positive so needed two doses of iv antibiotics on a drip anyway during labour so don't think it would have made a difference monitoring wise! Will require antibiotics on drip again the time around so I expect monitoring will be similar...
And despite being on all fours most of the time I ended up on my back and stirrups etc for the ventouse as he was pretty much stuck!
I was also nauseous from my first contraction and didn't eat for about 30 hrs overall!

TheUnstoppableWindmill Wed 10-Apr-13 21:02:44

It sounds as though you had a horrible time of it last time- things will DEFINITELY be better this time. Think positive!

MammaCici Thu 11-Apr-13 13:25:28

There is such thing as a walking epidural. That's what I had. It took the edge off but I still felt every contraction and was able to stay mobile. It was still painful but much more manageable. The insane pain (like you will die) disappeared. I'm planning on it again this time (I'm 37 weeks). The only difference is I hope to get it sooner. They will also inject a different pain killer for the pushing stage. I live in Sweden but it's worth checking if a walking epi is available if you are interested in that.

Mine felt all lovely and warm, like getting into a hot bath and drinking a big glass of wine. I was 6cm dilated, had been in labour for 18 hours with no pain relief (no gas and air in the USA). It was fab. grin

Neither saw nor felt the needle, didn't think about it tbh.

(second birth entirely natural add almost didn't get to hospital... That was also fab!)

bigkidsdidit Thu 11-Apr-13 13:35:10

I loved mine. My contractions (induction) were all in my back and were so excruciating I nearly passed out. I couldn't speak or move. DH insisted on epidural for me and once it kicked in I woke up and said 'how long was that blackout for, about 10 minutes'? turned out it was 4 hours shock

Mine was a light one so I could feel the contractions and when to push, and pushed DS out naturally. After skin to skin etc I got up and showered by myself. I needed a catheter for 24 hours but I had GBS so would have been in hospital for that time anyway so didn't mind.

Incidentally I think it was the monitoring for GBS that caused my problems, I had to lie down and it tipped me over the edge. I'm 32 weeks with #2 now and planning a much more active labour this time.

givemeaclue Thu 11-Apr-13 13:38:40

Epidural fab. Highly recommended, everyone should have one!

limetictacs Thu 11-Apr-13 14:10:02

I'm so glad you started this thread OP as I was wondering about how the epidural works as well. I had a horrible labour first time round. Stupidly went for a home birth on midwife's advice, even though it's over an hours drive to the hospital- and ended up with a mad dash to hospital after 19hrs of back to back labour with no pain relief. By the time I got there they couldn't give me an epi because I was already 9cm- 3 hrs later and a rather nasty 2nd degree tear I had my DS --then was given a spinal block to be sewn up so had all the after effects of an epidural anyway hmm.

Does anyone know how soon you're able to have one as I have to go into hospital as soon as labour starts due to having group b strep so was hoping for an epidural pretty much immediately. Also have SPD so won't be able to walk or move around anyway so an active labour is out of the question.

limetictacs Thu 11-Apr-13 14:10:31

Oops didn't mean to cross that whole section out!

Thurlow Thu 11-Apr-13 14:19:07

I LOVED mine, though it was less for the pain being unberable and more for absolute and utter exhaustion. I was allowed to ask for one when I got to 4cm, and luckily they could do it straight away. I could have married the anethetist when he walked into the room. It was a mobile epidural too, though I had an emcs very soon after so didn't get to fully appreciate how mobile it might let me be, though I certainly could move my legs slowly.

The only thing I was I found it awful having it put in - not the needle, just the sitting still and in a position that seemed to make my contractions a lot worse. But that's such a short period and you know that everything will get better afterwards.

bigkidsdidit Thu 11-Apr-13 14:24:25

lime I was allowed mine when I got to 4cm, my hospital had an anaesthetist on standby waiting but I was at the hospital with the highest rate of interventions in the UK so that might not be typical.

TerrysNo2 Thu 11-Apr-13 14:28:21

festive here's hoping you won't need an epidural. With DS he was back to back (it hurts like hell doesn't it!) and I had gas and air and then an epidural then an assisted (ventouse) delivery and an episiotomy.

3 years later I gave birth to DD at home with no pain relief (other than a tens machine), no episiotomy and just a tiny tear that didn't need stitches!

See, it is possible to have a lovely birth after your kind of experience! smile

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 11-Apr-13 14:29:11

My epidural was a blessed relief. My contractions had been so painful I had been passing out, I had been vomiting with gas and air and I was weeping as I asked for one. For a whole variety of reasons it was turned down, turned up, turned down and eventually converted to a full spinal block. Unfortunately it didn't stop the vomiting.

space21 Thu 11-Apr-13 19:04:47

I've had two.
The first was relief for a week of contractions and at only 1cm dilated as my contractions were of the scale! I was in labour for 23 hours, and he was delivered with ventouse and episiotomy after the forceps failed with cord round the neck and a heck of a lot of pushing on my part.
Second was at 5cm and 11 hours later the midwife presented my big baby after lots of pushing on my part.

You can still feel your legs you just don't get the intense pain of the contractions and you feel the baby passing down the birth canal and out of your fanjo. The birthing experience is in no way diminished with an epidural. I went with it from the outset and I got to rest and felt more in control especially with my second.

Good luck

festive Thu 11-Apr-13 19:45:24

Aww thanks everyone! Just wish I'd had one last time! Hoping this baby is not back to back and won't be as painful (or mahoosive!) but if it is then I think an epi is the way forward smile

GizzaCwtch Thu 11-Apr-13 19:54:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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