Did anyone else have severe leg pain during early labour?

(50 Posts)
Twinklemegan Tue 10-Jul-07 23:54:12

Yawn, it's me again, nearly a year on. I have an appointment to go through my notes with the consultant but going by the letter she sent to my GP she's getting all defensive. I'm not even making a complaint! (yet!). Apparently it's MY fault for having a birth plan stating a preference for a natural, active birth.

Anyhooo, I'd just like to gauge how common, or otherwise, it might be to get agonising pain in the legs as well as the back and abdomen during the early stages of labour. I mean agonising like you feel your leg muscles are imploding in on themselves. My argument being I should have been allowed to have some blardy pain relief.

1dilemma Wed 11-Jul-07 00:00:23

Got cramp but that's not much help sorry.

Twinklemegan Wed 11-Jul-07 00:01:52

Thanks for taking the time to respond anyhow

1dilemma Wed 11-Jul-07 00:10:47

Didn't want you to go unanswered and gave it a little bump in the process

LorraineSattell Wed 11-Jul-07 00:11:57

cripes, not me. soudns horrible

1dilemma Wed 11-Jul-07 00:12:02

Good luck with the meeting might be an idea to take a list of all the things you want answered then you don't need to worry about getting sidetracked! (helps us anyway)

Twinklemegan Wed 11-Jul-07 13:10:47


Saw a birth programme the other day and the lady had some pains down the front from her groin to mid thigh ish but it didn't seem that bad. Sorry that you had such a hard time. Hope you get the result you want. x

NorbertStanleyFletcher Wed 11-Jul-07 14:39:18

Where in your leg?

I had really really bad pain down the front top half of my thighs. Felt like I couldn't move my legs.

WIth all three of them I think

meandmyflyingmachine Wed 11-Jul-07 14:40:19

I did. Thighs only IIRC. But more pain there than anywhere else really, until push came to shove as it were.

I was rather surprised by it the first time as I hadn't expected to feel it there.

Twinklemegan Wed 11-Jul-07 20:17:36

Bumping for the evening crowd. NSF - did you find out why and were the midwives sympathetic?

NorbertStanleyFletcher Wed 11-Jul-07 23:09:40

I don't know why but presume it is just the way I am - I get really bad period pains, and when they are at their worst the pain extends to the same place in my upper thighs.

With my first I am not sure that I told them where the pain was. It was a really long labour and I was out of it on pethadine for too much of it.

With my second the MWs were crappola the whole way through anyway and refused to believe I was in labour until I was 10cm anyway. (no pain relief until the day shift arrived and they realised I was about to deliver, rushed me to delivery suit in a wheelchair in comedy fashion, so just G&A for the last 40 mins)

With number 3 the midwives were fab, and I was much more prepared, and I don't think I mentioned where the pain was as I was so concentrated on what I was doing.

Twinklemegan Wed 11-Jul-07 23:15:38

I'm the same NSF, I get bad period pains that extend down my legs as well. This pain was like nothing on earth. The MW's only response was, oh yes that happens sometimes. I was in excrutiating pain, not just in my legs, and I was offered paracetamol as it was apparently too early to have gas and air, even though I begged for it. My contractions as bad, if not worse, in early labour as they were in transition and I was denied pain relief. I am still so upset and angry about that.

My DS went posterior at some point during labour and I suppose I was wondering whether this might have caused the leg pain. From what you say though, perhaps it's just the way I'm made.

hatwoman Wed 11-Jul-07 23:17:13

I wouldn;t call it agomising but I felt my contractions in the tops of my thighs. in fact I didn;t really realise they were contractions because of where I was feeling them. I hope this works out how you want it too

hatwoman Wed 11-Jul-07 23:19:06

just seen your new post - dd didn't turn, but the leg pain was definitely at the early stages of labour and no less painful than the later stages

NorbertStanleyFletcher Wed 11-Jul-07 23:21:57

I had that thing where the contractions were bad early on too - well I did with number 1 and I think with number 2. It really pissed me off that they wouldn't give me pain reliefe with number 2 and wouldn't believe that I was in labour. I had the urge to push for hours, they just told me not to then buggered off back to their cup of tea. They even made me get out of the bath at 3 in the morning. I said "only if you get me some pain relief". MW said "well only if you get out of the bath". So I did, and guess what - I didn't see them again. <<sigh>>

I probably should have asked to look through my notes for that one, and kind of wish that I had, but it is too late now.

Twinklemegan Wed 11-Jul-07 23:23:32

I had to have a bath because they wouldn't let me in the birthing pool. That is an experience I never ever want to repeat - kneeling at the end of the bath screaming in pain.

hatwoman Wed 11-Jul-07 23:24:56

mears Fri 13-Jul-07 11:12:40

Twinklemegan - women often complain of pain in their upper legs with contractions. For a woman who is in very early labour ie whose cervix has hardly opened at all, I would probably suggest paracetamol and a warm bath or a birthing ball to sit on. I would also encourage her to eat.

If a woman was very distressed in early labour, I would offer her a bath and if that didn't help, the pool. The pool can either make contractions more effective or stop them if not truly established. If they stop, then the woman gets relief.

The most important thing is support in labour though - were you alone?

CarGirl Fri 13-Jul-07 11:17:19

I was induced and I have to say the leg pain was horrendous - I was desperate to sit down but it was too painful and the standing up/walking was exhausting but slightly less painful, never got any pain relief for it as I was told it was just the gel!

susie100 Fri 13-Jul-07 13:03:33

Twinklemegan you poor think that sounds horrible.
Mears I think the problem with my friend is that they refused to check her, told her she was in early labour and she was already 6cm dilated and in a lot of pain.
Paracetamol was going to be about as useful as a boiled sweet!
See what you mean about support as well, she was alone as they had sent dp home and told her to keep the noise down

susie100 Fri 13-Jul-07 14:36:17

Sorry I of course mean you poor thing

mears Fri 13-Jul-07 15:32:38

You are right susie100 - paracetamol in those circumstances isn't much use. It is a shame your friend had such a horrible experience.

meandmyflyingmachine Fri 13-Jul-07 15:55:51

I had it the first time when I was induced, but because my waters had already broken and I was bleeding from some undefined location, I couldn't have a bath, or anything to eat. I went for about 18 hours after the drip was put in, and then I had some gas and air - yay! But by that time things had moved on and it certainly wasn't early labour any more. I don't know if they would have given me any pain relief if I had asked.

But it wasn't the induction that caused the pain there because it happened again the second time, but fortunately I was psychologically more prepared for it. Had gas and air only for the pushing bit again.

The ball is good - and short bursts of walking in between sitting on the ball also helped.

I reckon it's going to hurt somewhere whatever happens. It just felt wrong for it to be in my legs!

My midwives were lovely though - both times. Hugely supportive. It makes a huge difference, especially the second time when I was very nervous.

CarGirl Fri 13-Jul-07 19:17:54

worst thing about it being in your legs (happened with all of mine) is that the tens machine doesn't seem to help much with that bit! Overall I found the tens machine fab but it never touched the leg pain, not sure it can?

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 20:19:50

Mears - thanks for responding. I was 2-3 cm dilated when I was first checked. In horrid, horrid pain with no respite between contractions. Gas and air requested but denied, birth pool denied, paracetemol offered which I didn't take because I felt violently sick (and I knew it wouldn't work as pain was too too bad).

They wouldn't let me rest on all fours on the bed, which is what I wanted. My legs collapsed under me with every contraction so I ended up mostly on the hard hospital floor. I was sent for a walk "to speed things up", which was horrendous as I could barely stay upright. Then they still wouldn't let me in the birth pool, but wouldn't check my dilation either. They sent me for a bath with my DH - I could do nothing except kneel at the end of the bath. I ended up screaming in agony so that DH had to pull the emergency cord. When they got me back to the labour ward and examined me I was 6cm.

My baby went back to back at some point between arriving at hospital and starting to push. It took me 3 1/2 hours to push him out, with the head being visible for 3 hours of that. He turned 270 degrees and my contractions almost stopped in the process. Delivered naturally in the end with a fantastic midwife to help and encourage me.

I personally feel that the offer of paracetemol and the refusal of gas and air had a massive impact on my ability to cope with the first stage of labour. My understanding was that it was going to get a whole lot worse and I couldn't see how that was possible. It was never worse than at that point, which goes to prove, in my opinion, that the level of pain I described was not taken seriously by the midwives concerned.

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 20:22:13

Cargirl - totally agree about the TENS machine. I was really hoping to rely on that for the early stages. What happened is that I got so confused at the onset of each contraction that I couldn't work it properly and in the end I think it was making the pain worse.

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 20:33:37

Sorry, just to add, Mears - what level of pain is paracetamol expected to help? Because it doesn't even touch my period pain and my labour pain was a hundred times worse than that. Or is it a way of objectively gauging a woman's level of pain ie if paracetamol makes any difference then she's not in true labour?

CarGirl Fri 13-Jul-07 20:34:12

yes I too remember a time in early labour with at least one of them (actually probably wasn't even in established labout) and there was absolutely no respite between the contractions - well shooting pains down my legs, I was begging for an epidural etc etc etc and then by contrast my last labour was a doddle very doable without anything but gas & air.

I've never had those contractions that are 6, 8 or 10 minutes apart I was lucky if they were 2 mins apart - lol! Also last time had 6 hours of that and lo and behold my bishops score was still a whole 1!!!!!!!!! I nearly cried but mainly because I'd been there all day and actually not got anywhere - the next lot of gel did the job though it was fab, the 6 hours of useless leg contractions had obviously built up my endorphins lovely.

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 20:37:29

The other funny thing with my labour was that my contractions started off 5 mins apart, and very very strong, straight after my waters broke, and stayed that way until transition when they reached 3 mins apart. They never got closer together than that thank God - I think I'd have died!

mears Fri 13-Jul-07 22:53:29

Twinklemegan - in answer to your question I think paracetampl can sometimes help when you have irregular contractions and backache in the prelabour/early labour phase.

At 2-3 cm dilated i don't understand why you were not allowed to go into the pool to be honest. Were you still in the ward?

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 22:56:37

According to the letter my consultant sent to my GP I "wasn't in active labour". Also they have a policy that you have to be 5 to 6 cm dilated before they'll let you in the pool.

mears Fri 13-Jul-07 23:02:52

That policy is pants and out of line with current thinking. We used to do that - to discourage women from going into the pool until 5cm. Most couldn't wait that long and opted for morphine therefore couldn't get into the pool at all.

The best time to go into the pool is when you are having regular painful contractions and require pain relief.

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 23:08:49

Very interesting Mears - thanks very much. Can I just trouble you once more (I think I need to be as well informed as possible before I meet with the consultant)? What's your take on it being too early for gas and air? I gather there is an issue about reaching saturation point if you have too much, and I had said in my birth plan not to offer me anything else. But the thing is, by the time I was allowed to have it I was so panicked and my breathing was shot to pieces that I just couldn't get the hang of it at all. The only time I really felt the effects was afterwards when I was having my stitches.

mears Fri 13-Jul-07 23:17:58

If you start gas and air too early then you can get to the point that it isn't very effective and you need something stronger.

If I had been looking after you, I would have initially advised that you keep mobile. If that wasn't helpful I would have offered you a bath and/or a pezzi ball to sit on - the choice would have been yours. If none of these things helped I would have offered you the pool advising you that is your contractions weren't regular the pool may make them stop. That would not have been a problem because it would have given you some respite.
I don't understand why you weren't alloed to adopt a position which would help you.

Did you have a midwife with you?

lunalovegoodasgold Fri 13-Jul-07 23:19:04

I had contractions in my legs too. My dd2 was back to back, and presented her face first. When I was pregnant with her even the Braxton Hicks hurt my legs.

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 23:24:05

So do you think it might have been because of my birth plan that they wouldn't let me have it when I asked? Ironically, like I said, by the time I got it it was just too late to feel any benefit.

You see I did have a birth ball but I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand. Every time I had a contraction I collapsed and ended up writhing around on the hard floor.

I think I wasn't forthright enough. I took the refusal to let me have gas and air as telling me that I shouldn't be needing it. Also I don't think DH realised how much pain I was in. People kept asking HIM "is she OK?" and I couldn't answer. It was like I was in one of those dreams where you want to speak but can't. I went along with going for a walk (to the car park) and it was utter hell, and VERY embarrassing. I agreed to try a bath in lieu of the pool but that was just dreadful, but again I don't think DH realised quite how bad it was. Actually it was him saying we should go home that started me screaming come to think of it. I'd never say that to him though - he thought he was helping with reverse psychology .

I'm so sorry to trouble you about this, but you've been very helpful. The GP said she feels that perhaps my labour didn't follow the normal course and that the MWs didn't pick up on that.

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 23:26:01

Sorry to answer your last question. No the midwives were very busy and they disappeared for up to an hour at a time. When I was in the bath it was just me and DH until he pulled the cord.

mears Fri 13-Jul-07 23:26:42

Usually when contractions are as painful as you describe, they are more frequent than every 5 minutes and that may be what threw the midwives off.

Was a midwife with you all the time or were you on your own?

Were you in the labour ward at this point?

How long was it after your examination when you were 2-3cm, were you 6cm?

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 23:38:09

Mears, I can't remember I'm afraid. I've looked back at my first thread on this topic and I've said there that it took around 9 hours from my first examination to when I started to push. My waters broke at 7am ish, soon after I got to hospital. My notes said I was in active labour at 8am, but could equally well have been before as they weren't around at that time. I think it must have been a good 4 or 5 hours perhaps (hopefully I'll find out when I get to see my notes again).

Twinklemegan Fri 13-Jul-07 23:39:24

And yes I was in the labour ward. I went straight there when we got to hospital and they didn't turn me away. Well, I think they tried...

mears Fri 13-Jul-07 23:52:25

I think that there may be a problem here because of your birthplan. You said in one of your posts that you didn't want offered anything other than gas and air. I think this has meant that the midwife has expected you to cope with the pain and under-estimated how much pain you were in. They have tried to keep you away from using gas and air and the pool too early with the expectation that you might need stronger pain relief later - something you had not wanted in your birthplan.

The situation you were in should have been discussed more fully. In my opinion you should have been allowed to go into the pool and to use gas and air as you were so distressed. There would have been no harm done and you would have benefitted from being listened to.

Was there an issue with staffing? A woman should not labour in the pool without a midwife being present.

The consultant might not be the best person to discuss this with - it would be better to be the manager midwife of the labour ward to be honest.

What happened once you were 6cm? What pain relief did you have then?

Twinklemegan Sat 14-Jul-07 00:00:51

I think the pool thing is just hospital policy. I'd been told that beforehand.

My birth plan said I was keeping an open mind about pain relief and if I wanted anything more than gas and air I would ask (ie I didn't want to be tempted by something else which I might then regret if I reacted badly to it). I wasn't told when I put the plan together that this in itself could limit my use of gas and air.

When I was 6cm they let me go in the pool and I got gas and air, but as I said I was far too far gone to be able to use it effectively. I think the best pain relief of all was a change of shift and I got the most fantastic midwife who made all the difference.

I've been wondering myself about seeing the consultant. The GP referred me after I completely freaked out when I went for a smear test. She's also referred me for counselling because it's severely affected mine and DH's relationship (ie any pregnancy at the mo would be the immaculate conception). She has said herself that the consultant probably won't be too sympathetic but thought it was important for me to let them know what happened so it doesn't happen to someone else.

I think if (a BIG if) there's a next time, I wouldn't have a birth plan, other than "please let me do/have whatever I feel is right for me at the time, barring medical reasons". You are very much encouraged to make one and I don't think tbh enough information was available to ensure my choices are fully informed. I read lots about natural, active birth and the evils of medicalisation, but I think I needed more practical information about the implications of my choices.

Sorry, that's a long post!

NorbertStanleyFletcher Sat 14-Jul-07 00:06:13

Oh twinkle - after my first two I didn't do a birth plan for my third. I completely get what you mean. You just have to make sure that you go in there confident and, well, and , confident. Get yourself a doula if you are going again (really they are SOOOOOOO much less expensive than I thought). It CAN be better the next time.

I can't quite explain how good it was for me the third time. Really. Second would have been better too but for circumstances beyond my control and a really bad night shift....

mears Sat 14-Jul-07 00:16:16

Definitely then the person to speak to is the senior midwife/manager of the labour ward. The consultant will have little knowledge of midwifery care in labour. The midwives need to learn from your experience and how you felt about being denied the use of the pool when you needed pain relief. Their guideline needs changing. Whilst it is true that labour should be established before using the pool for pain relief, many women need to get in before 5cm. The worst thing that will happen if they go in too soon is that the contractions will get less. In that scenario the woman gets out and re-enters later.

It is such a shame that you have had such an avoidable experience. I hope that you are able to see the senior midwife too.

It is obvious that your level of pain was not recognised by the midwife and you were left on your own too long. That is also a contributory factor to your need for pain relief. It also means that your contractions and your response were not being observed. Had that been done, you may have got into the pool earlier. Lying back in the bath would have made your contractions more painful if your baby was back-to-back. The midwife would have been able to see this had one been with you.

I am going now but am happy to answer any further questions you may have. Will check in tomorrow.

Twinklemegan Sat 14-Jul-07 00:18:27

Mears - thank you so so much. You have confirmed a lot of what I thought. I think I'd better see the consultant since an appointment's been made but I will make enquiries about seeing the Senior Midwife (who as it happens is the one who delivered my DS).

Twinklemegan Sat 14-Jul-07 00:22:36

NSF - thanks!

Twinklemegan Sat 14-Jul-07 00:28:16

And thank you to everyone else as well - I was a bit caught up with my conversation with Mears - sorry for being rude. I feel so much better now and ready to face the consultant like a grown woman not a blubbering wreck (hopefully!)

Zo3 Tue 17-Jul-07 13:34:40

Hi, I am new on here.
I have always had pain in my legs. I am now pregnant with baby no.3. I am 35wks+5days. I am having very bad pains in my legs as I speak. I would not be able to say whether I was in Labour or not?
My last child was born too quickly; I had my waters broken because he was two weeks over due. The pain was all in my legs. I did not even realise that I was about to give birth until the midwife realised that I had started to push. Unfortunately I ended up with a third degree tear because it was a surprise to me and the midwife.
It’s good to know that there are others that suffer with the pain in their legs.

architien Thu 02-Jul-09 19:32:04

I had bad pains in my thighs too...a nice surprise that was! (two weeks ago) I had to ask DH to push in on them and it helped a little, as did staring at the wall for hours. We had called an ambulance (car was a problem at time and new to area so no family), said they'd be there in under an hour, they took 6.5hrs and i arrived at the hospital in agony 9cms with a lip. I pushed within 5 minutes of arriving and tore badly. The gas and air cannister ran out after trying for a few minutes to get the hang and they didnt have time to change it. So all in all a natural but agonising delivery, still in shock with the stitches whilst getting to grips with bfing in a new area surrounded by boxes.....
I still panic slightly everytime i think of the birth and what state i might be in with stitches (i really cant bare to assess that properly yet).
Best of luck Zo3, you sound like you are doing really well.

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