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.

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

HarlettOScara Fri 30-Nov-12 16:56:27

*Bionic,, remifentanil Is used in the hospital three I gave birth in. It was one of the options I discussed with the anaesthetist. Iirc, he stated that it's not actually licensed for use on labour but that there is sufficient evidence to assess its safety. To GE honest, while he described all the pros and cons of ur, I got the distinct impression that he didn't rate it and given the choice between it and epidural, he would recommend epidural.

I know several people who have used it on labour and reviews are mixed. Done loved it, others said that it made them feel too spaced out, sleepy and out of control. I guess like the other options, it comes down to individual tolerance. The common side effects (nausea and extreme itching) were enough to put me off and as it relies on precision timing to be effective, I wasn't sure I'd be able to manage it well enough in the throes of labour.

RooneyMara Fri 30-Nov-12 17:02:41

I've had a birth with no pain relief at all, and a birth with an epidural and G&A.

The G&A made my mouth dry and wasn't very helpful.

The epidural was Ok at the time but I had a reaction to it after, (I think it must have been that) and couldn't stop being sick.

So for me avoiding both these things the second time was quite a positive thing. Also I couldn't feel my legs after the epidural for about 24 hours. And I didn't like being in the hospital.

So to have that sense of control over my own body was quite important to me.

RooneyMara Fri 30-Nov-12 17:06:39

oh yes and, and, and ...I forgot. Because I'd had an epidural I was strapped to a monitor on my back, and couldn't move. Then ds's heartbeat dropped dramatically and someone had to run for a doctor.
then I was being wheeled into a delivery room where they debated whether to prep me for a CS or use a ventouse.

In the end they used neither and I managed to give birth 'naturally', but had to be cut. I could not feel anything at all.

There is a cascade of intervention, there really is. It is very hard to avoid once you have agreed to one thing. And you can feel quite bullied into things you don't know the risks of because you feel rude refusing, or too worried to refuse in case it's really necessary.

You don't get the chance to make an informed decision. It can be rather frightening.

PrincessSymbian Fri 30-Nov-12 17:28:53

I stumbled across a study while pregnant with my daughter that linked drug use in labour to people being more prone to abuse drugs when they were grown! I'm sure that it was not a very accurate study.
IMO gas and air is the bees knees but having also experienced fentanyl recently, well, it was lovely stuff.
Pethadine did nothing for my pain, just made me totally out of it, I had it just before they ruptured my membranes, which made my contractions go off the scale. Then had am epidural to go with the syntocin they put me on, which was very helpful with the pain but I did not like being immobile.

minifingers Fri 30-Nov-12 19:43:17

Harlett - I've heard midwives commenting that reminfentinyl is quite useful and women often like it, except they have to watch the woman and nudge her sometimes if she stops breathing! (like any other opioid it depresses respiration....)

Midgetm Sat 01-Dec-12 04:55:54

Having had two very different births one with and one without an epidural I would go for a well administered epidural any day. With epidural I could still feel my legs (a spinal is the one where you can't and that is horrible). Could still walk and pushed out my daughter, without tearing. Without one I could barely move because of the pain, i tore, and thought I may die. I am with the French on thinking we are all a but bonkers on the pain relief. Sometimes it gets a bit like a peeing competition. If you choose the right pain relief at the right time it can be a godsend.

Gas and air is marvellous. Makes the time go faster and I thought I was at a festival at one stage which is preferable to the reality. Personally I would avoid pethadine but each to their own.

Have an open mind and Go with whatever you need to get through. as long as you don't beat yourself up about your choices.

RooneyMara Sat 01-Dec-12 08:40:25

Sounds good - maybethat's what they call a 'mobile epidural' in the books I read. I wasn't allowed one like that though sad

I'm just hoping that this labour will be even faster (last was 3.5 hours) and that I won't have, or have time, to go anywhere other than my own bedroom smile

LaVolcan Sat 01-Dec-12 08:48:53

Well Midgetm for me it was the complete opposite. Perhaps it wasn't a well-administered epidural, but I couldn't feel my legs, couldn't feel to push, had forceps, and couldn't walk for a good few hours afterwards. Plus my daughter's head was bruised - possibly from the forceps or from pushing without being able to feel what I was doing.

Without one, or any drugs, I could move, could get into a comfortable position, work with my body, didn't tear, gave birth to a fantastically alert son, and felt tremendously empowered.

This all left me baffled as to why people sing the praises of epidurals but obviously they are a godsend for some women, so it's a difficult choice.

RooneyMara Sat 01-Dec-12 08:54:16

I think it's because you feel no pain! smile

I certainly realised that was a bonus when I had ds2 without anything. In fact that's probably why I had another baby...I had no idea how much it hurts!

I'm kind of dreading this one.

sugarandspite Sat 01-Dec-12 09:27:12

OP,
Just wanted to add that when you are considering the opinions and experiences of your mum and other women of her generation, depending upon their age and the community they lived in, their experiences of birth and raising babies may be vastly different to your own.

For most women, birth was a much more heavily medicalised experience, with more doctor involvement even in normal low risk births. Most patients (and particularly labouring women) had much less autonomy and authority when it came to making decisions about or questioning their care - for example my MIL was both horrified and amazed at the thought of a birth plan: 'but you just do what the doctor tells you!'. She tells me all labouring women were shaved and given an enema just because 'that's how you do it' - another practice no longer in use.

Also breastfeeding rates were much lower and medical advice on breastfeeding frequently flawed: 10mins each side every 3 hours, babies in communal nurseries, little skin to skin etc - so breastfeeding if attempted commonly failed with explanations of 'not having enough milk'.
So any impacts of the labour drugs on breastfeeding were less likely to be recognised by mothers.

And most women stayed in hospital for 7-10 days after birth, so the issues surrounding immediate recovery from labour / drugs also less significant and so less recognised. And the food was apparently better and babies were in the nursery so the postnatal ward was a much more enjoyable place than it is now!

brettgirl2 Sat 01-Dec-12 10:05:18

Of course there are advantages to epidural. If you need an emcs then it can be done quicker and in a real emergency you will avoid general. It is also much better if you do end up with an instrumental delivery anyway. My friend had very traumatic ventouse with no pain relief.

I had pethidine with my first daughter and blamed it for breastfeeding problems. I had easy homebirth with my second and had exactly the same problems. Pethidine definitely did help me through long back to back labour first time around.

Personally the thought of having an epidural frightens the living daylights out of me but thats just me.

OP I think our mothers' generation was lucky in a lot of ways they gave birth without all the NCT type pressure. Natural is best in my experience when all is easy and works well. The biggest factor as far as I can see is luck in terms of how it works out.

Midgetm Sat 01-Dec-12 10:24:10

Brettgirl am I your friend? I had ventouse and wished I'd had a Epidural.

What is pants is that different pain relief suits different people but as you've not tried them, nor know how you will react to them you find out when in labour. If I am ever crazy enough to try again I'd like a practice run at the drugs cabinet. grin or have gin.

Loislane78 Tue 04-Dec-12 17:49:25

OP - I know this isn't your question and you should research the options, effects, pros/cons etc. but my advice is to have an open mind as you don't know how you'll feel and how things will progress.

If you want a drug free birth by all means go for that but pls don't feel bad if you need something. I've heard this so many times from friends as if everything went 'wrong' because it didn't go according to their birth plan.

GL smile

shoppingtrolley Fri 07-Dec-12 11:06:13

The drugs made my baby sleepy and unhappy, and the drips made me bloated (as in full body bloated). Epidural was a bad experience. It was way too strong so I went from being in agony to hardly feeling anything. Ask them to give you a weak epidural.

Yermina Fri 07-Dec-12 11:37:35

"This all left me baffled as to why people sing the praises of epidurals"

Most women labour in an unfamiliar birthing environment on a site otherwise filled with sick and dying people, many have their labour augmented with syntocinon, are often required to stay motionless on their bottoms on a bed while having strong contractions, are cared for by someone they have never met before, who may not be able to spend much time or energy on supporting them because of exhaustion or simply having too many other women to look after. Most women will have the experience of having a hand stuck up their vagina at regular intervals during labour so that the person who's looking after them can document what's happening with the birth. These things are all common practice in UK hospitals and the normal experience of many mums having babies. IMO all these things work against the normal hormonal physiology of labour and therefore make it much, much more of a challenge.

I think epidurals are the answer to routine hospital practices. The other answer might be 'waterbirth', 'hypnobirthing', or 'stay the hell out of hospital!'.

LaVolcan Fri 07-Dec-12 11:47:44

Yermina - I agree with you. Most of that happened to me, apart from the maternity hospital being in a separate building to the main hospital. But then I was given an epidural, which didn't work properly, and that's why I was baffled as to why people thought they were so wonderful.

Second time round I took the 'stay the hell out of hospital approach' and had a home birth - same midwife at each appointment and delivery, mostly the same midwife postnatally. Oh how I wished I had known that that standard of care was available the first time round.

I'm in America, where they don't offer gas & air (more's the pity, it sounds like fun). I decided to avoid the opiates as opiates tend to make me fuzzy and out of it, and I wanted to avoid an Epidural as I was afraid of the cascade of interventions, which is extremely common in American hospitals: namely that the epidural slows down labour, so you're put on pitocin to speed it up, which hurts more, so your epidural needs topping up, which slows down labour, so you need more pitocin, and so on until your body 'stalls' and you're told your labour has 'failed to progress' and suddenly you're being whisked off for a C section.

I had to go back to work 6 weeks after birth and so I REALLY wanted to avoid a C section and have a relatively swift recovery.

As it happened, I had to be induced due to low amniotic fluid, and got to 6cm using hypnobirthing techniques, but around then they were worried about my BP (after 15 hours in labour) and so gave me an epidural and told me to take a 3-4 hour nap, wake up, and push the baby out. That's exactly what I did. The epidural felt lovely (didn't feel it going into my spine) - warm and fuzzy and then numb, and I slept (while I slept they gave me more pitocin as the epidural had slowed down my labour) and then woke as I felt the epidural wear off. I could absolutely feel to push ( and it hurt, so I suspect the epidural had completely worn off) and pushing felt GOOD, though I think it would have been easier/ faster if I had been able to stand and squat - as a result of the epidural I only had back/side options, which was sad. DS was sleepy and I had a hard time latching him but I think that was a result of a long long labour rather than the epidural.

For me the real drawback of the epidural was not being able to move freely afterwards. I could feel my legs just fine but they wouldn't let me out of the bed, and so I had to buzz for ages for a bedpan, etc, and at one point thought "bugger it, I'll make a run for the loo if they don't come soon'' - but got then bollocked for sitting up with my feet on the floor and trying to stand!

Going in again soon - DS2 is due any day - and I will try again to get to at least 6-7cms without an epidural as they DO slow me down and pitocin makes things much more painful for me - but now I've had one I'm less anti-epidurals than I was before the first birth.

Ideally I'd like to do it drug-free so I can have a swifter and more straightforward recovery afterwards, be able to take a shower straightaway and not to be told I have to stay in bed for x more hours, etc. But who knows what this one will bring? each birth, like each baby, is different.

whatsoever Fri 07-Dec-12 19:02:24

I strongly didn't want an epidural because I didn't want the cascade of intervention. I ended up with all the intervention but without the lovely pain killing effect of an epidural. I'll ask for the epidural when I arrive if there is a next time!

I had diamorphine, and a scary couple of days where DS didn't feed (which staff said was likely the diamorphine in his system) but he quickly caught up & is now an EBF 12lb15oz 7 week old so I would take it again. It didn't make me sick or out of it but did make me stop fearing the pain for a bit.

I had no urge to push & my attempts at pushing had no effect so I ended up having forceps on theatre. So much for my birth plan (pool, gas & air only).

Nikki2510 Mon 10-Dec-12 07:23:49

I just gave birth to my DS last Wednesday so still very fresh in my head... I had a Tens machine, Gas and Air and a shot of Pethidine. The tens and Gas and Air I found quite useful.

The pethidine I had because I was getting moaned at for not taking pain relief and I had no idea whether my contractions were full on or how much worse they would get. To be honest, all it did for me was make me as high as a kite - I was definitely hallucinating at one point and very dozy. I don't think it helped with the pain at all and I wouldn't want it again. The midwives etc were also trying to persuade me to have an epidural but I managed to hold out against that - I did ask about Diamorphine but the hospital doesn't offer that as an option.

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Mon 10-Dec-12 07:33:32

I had an epidural with dc1. Upside: blessed relief from the frustrating, exhausting, unproductive pain - I was entering the third day of contractions and still only 3cm. After it was in I dilated fully within the hour shock

Downside: It then caused the contractions to tail off, meaning I ended up with a syntocin drip and it was another several hours before i finally gave birth by ventouse. I still felt the contractions (non-painfully) but had to concentrate very hard on them rather than them taking over. Losing that sense of my body working which comes with the pain was highly disorientating in retrospect.

Second birth I arrived at hospital under what I thought were pretty moderate contractions, was discovered to be 9cm dilated and had given birth (also by ventouse due to sudden drop in heart rate) half an hour later. Obv no time for any pain relief (where I am G&A isn't used). The pain was very intense but I had a sense throughout of working towards the birth and feeling the head come was very powerful.

I don't know what would have happened in my first birth if I hadn't had the epidural, but any future birth I will not want to have one.

janey68 Tue 11-Dec-12 07:15:20

I think it's interesting how many women go for epidural first time round, but for subsequent births are very keen to try without. If epidurals were really so wonderful and what everyone wanted, then surely these women would be jumping at one for every birth.

I agree with the comments upthread about it being the norm in the Uk to labour in a hospital, with doctors and midwives you've never met, when in reality the majority of births could be uncomplicated.

I had dc1 with a few whiffs of gas and air- yea it was bloody painful, I don't think anything compares to first time birth- but i was in control, didn't end up with the cascade of intervention (which you only have to watch OBEM to witness) and it made me confident that if i could manage it first time then I could manage it subsequently

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