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AIBU to expect a Midwife not to ignore a request for an epidural?

(163 Posts)
OldRichandGrateful Thu 02-May-13 22:38:09

I have had an exciting day being a birth partner with my (a lot younger) DSis. Her husband is away in the forces and I was back up support. DSis had a beautiful daughter. smile

She had a tough time and this wasn't helped by the total lack of any help from the Midwife. My Dsis was in great pain and struggling to keep calm and focused. She kept asking for an epidural and the Midwife kept fobbing her off. The Midwife didn't stay in the room for very long and just kept disappearing.

I had my DS a few years ago and my Midwife was brilliant.

AIBU to think my DSis should get an epidural if she asked for one and to expect her Midwife to support and help her?

Springforward Thu 02-May-13 22:41:25

It depends on whether an anaesthetist was available or not.

dontmeanto Thu 02-May-13 22:46:50

They are so overworked its unbelievable, and more than likely no available anaesthetist. I was also denied one but mine openly admitted there was just no one there to do it. The fault lies with the NHS funding, not the midwife herself.

Congrats to your Dsis who can now be initiated into the 'burning ring of fire' club!

5madthings Thu 02-May-13 22:48:43

There may not have been an anethiatist, or they may have been understaffed.

Its not ideal, how long was your sister asking for an epidural and did she have a birth plan that the midwife was maybe trying to encourage her to follow?

emsyj Thu 02-May-13 22:52:32

I do think anyone who makes an informed decision to have an epidural should be able to get one without undue delay - but it seems rare that this actually happens, presumably due to lack of available anaesthetists.

Obviously the midwife can't administer an epidural herself, so she's in a bit of a shit position really if there is nobody available to do it. YANBU to think that a woman should not be ignored in this way though.

5madthings Thu 02-May-13 22:52:56

I ask re birth plan as mine said no epidural and to encourage em to do it without, I knew I would get to the point of begging for one, but also that once at that point there wouldn't be long to go iyswim?

Depending on how fast your sisters labour progressed and when she asked for one there may not have been time to get it set up and working until it was too late iyswim?

Congratulations to your sister and to you as proud aunty!

I was my friends birth partner, it is an amazing experience smile

Fairylea Thu 02-May-13 22:56:17

I have been on both sides of this... with dd I was in labour for 67 hours (not a typo) and took 2 days of begging to get an epidural. Suffered pstd and pnd as a result of awful labour.

With dd I chose an elective section but due to undiagnosed placenta previa I haemorrhaged terribly (I don't do pregnancy well !) And had all anaesthesitis they could find in theatre with me for the best part of 5 hours. I nearly died. I also had two head consultants in with me.

If someone had wanted an epidural during the time I was in theatre they would have had no chance whatsoever.

It all depends on circumstances. However midwives should always be sympathetic and endeavour to fulfill a request for an epidural.

hippo123 Thu 02-May-13 23:02:20

Depends On how many cms she was when asking and who was available.

nancy75 Thu 02-May-13 23:06:44

I couldnt have an epidural because there was no one available to do it. I was asking for 3 hours before anyone told me why. I understand midwives are busy but it doesn't take long to explain. I have to say the midwives I had were quite awful, nothing to do with busy they were just rude.

scaevola Thu 02-May-13 23:06:48

The midwife should not have fobbed her off. But it's also possible that what the midwife was saying was not groundless, but a proper reason (likeliest being all anaesthetists already dealing with other patients).

Fluffypinkcoat Thu 02-May-13 23:07:45

Probably no anaesthetist. I asked several times but they were busy in theatre so had to keep plodding on. The midwife explained this to me every time I asked though and was very patient. YANBU for expecting your sisters midwife to do the same.

dontmeanto Thu 02-May-13 23:17:16

I know two midwives in RL who are both incredibly disheartened at the moment because they are so understaffed, incredibly busy, and get the brunt of complaints when they really and truly want to give high standard of care but impossible to do so.

Both are contemplating career changes.

I bet it's a wonderful job if you have all adequate resources, and the worst, most frustrating, stressful nightmare when you don't.

OldRichandGrateful Thu 02-May-13 23:18:45

The Midwife didn't look at the birth plan. She didn't stay in the room long enough! My DSis was going to keep an open mind about pain relief, but it all got a bit much for her.

I don't know how many cms DSis was when she asked for the epidural. I was at at the non-business end IYSWIM. DSis just kept asking, getting more and more desperate, but it didn't make any difference. No idea if an anaesthetist was available - it was quick at the end. I was frantically pressing the call button - DN was born just as the Midwife (and random student) came running into the room.

I understand everyone is busy and my DSis might not have been a priority, but I felt really helpless and I couldn't make her pain go away. We both cried at the end.

Thanks for the congrats - my DN is lovely! I am a very proud Aunty!

Fluffypinkcoat Thu 02-May-13 23:57:19

That sounds very stressful and quite a bit frightening. Its that helpless feeling and lack of control that is the worst part I think! I bet she was very glad to have you there to support her. Congratulations to you both!

thebody Fri 03-May-13 00:11:16

I asked for an epidural for my first and fourth child as labour long and painful. No anaesthetist was available so understand this as a badly injured person comes first.

However I do think that labour pain is somehow treated as less important than ' normal pain' and not taken so seriously.

AbyCat Fri 03-May-13 00:15:10

I'm sorry that your Dsis didn't get the support and pain relief that she needed. But you both needed to do a bit of research in advance to prepare for this I'm afraid. Unless you go private (and even then it's a bit hit and miss) you need to be prepared to shout to get the care you need and nothing, including epidurals, are guaranteed.

Huge congrats on your new DN, sounds like you were wonderful for your DSis, which is all that matters.

Mumsyblouse Fri 03-May-13 00:34:53

I'm also sorry you didn't get the support from the midwives that would have been reassuring, I had amazing support from just one midwife for my second birth and I feel really sad that this is not the norm across the NHS. It might help to chat with your sister at some point in the future about how she felt about the birth- and for you to offload to someone else too, such as a friend, just to process it all. But the fantastic news is she did do it, no epidural, it sounds pretty fast at the end, and you now have a lovely new baby in your family- congratulations!

wisheshappentobehorsestoday Fri 03-May-13 01:07:27

I understand resources are stretched but confused this isn't a new problem what so ever. It just means women in child birth are at the bottom of the priority list.

I guess someone has to be hmm

ivanapoo Fri 03-May-13 04:42:14

Without wanting to get people's backs up I would rather anaesthetists were helping people having operations than those in complication-free labour tbh. Labour is really intense but at least you know the pain has a good purpose!

I think the real problem here is not no epidural as much as the lack of midwife support. I was very lucky to give birth on a quiet evening in what is usually an extremely busy maternity ward so had a few midwives at my disposal for the duration.

Twattybollocks Fri 03-May-13 05:06:18

No she shouldn't have been fobbed off. If an anaesthetist wasn't available or she was too far dilated for it to work before delivery then this should have been explained to her clearly when she asked. Ignoring requests isn't good enough. It's easier to stomach not having one when you know there is a valid reason why.

Madamecastafiore Fri 03-May-13 05:08:38

YANBU to expect better communication from your midwife but YABU to expect an epidural on demand.

Availability of anaesthesiast and progression of labour are 2 big factors that mean epidurals on demand are not feasible.

Iteotwawki Fri 03-May-13 05:16:50

YANBU to expect an ecplanati

Iteotwawki Fri 03-May-13 05:22:21

YANBU to expect an explanation as to why the request for an epidural is denied. There are a myriad of reasons why one can't be sited but lack of anaesthetists should never be the cause (unless you're in a tiny rural birthing unit without 24/7 anaesthetic cover). Lack of available midwife possibly, as once an epidural is in and working you need 1:1 care for the remainder of labour, which isn't possible if you're looking after 2 labouring women at once.

Most labour wards in the UK have at least one dedicated anaesthetist 24/7 and if they're in theatre, another one should be contacted. If they are also busy (not unheard of) then the on call consultant should be called in from home if required.

Many units have a "request to anaesthetist in room" time of 30mins or less as a target.

Sorry you were left in that situation but congrats on DN! (Congrats to sis too!)

TheRealFellatio Fri 03-May-13 05:31:17

I had this happen to me with DS3. I had not had an epidural with 1 and 2, but I decided in advance that I wanted one from the very beginning and told everyone quite categorically all the way through my PG. I told the midwife when I went into the labour ward, there was always plenty of time all the way along, and she just kept muttering platitudes about how I was a big girl who'd done it all before and I didn't need it, but we'd talk about it nearer the time. I kept asking, kept being told it was too soon.

Come the time when I really really wanted one and the labour was pretty well advanced she just kept saying 'I've called the anaesthetist, he'll be here in a minute but I bet this baby will be born before then....he's on his way, he's just finishing the last lady.....he'll be five more minutes, do a push, he's walking down the corridor, do another push....' hmm

I think she decided she didn't want me to have one and she just fobbed me off the whole way through. I am not the kind of person to make a fuss or get shirty with people and although it was the most painful birth of my three I did emerge intact and unscathed, so I just focused on that and didn't complain. If I'd ended up with forceps or ventouse or a massive cut or some other trauma though, I'd have fucking FURIOUS.

Pitmountainpony Fri 03-May-13 05:38:51

Congratulations to your sis.
I hear such horror stories about birth in the UK-in the US as soon as you ask that epidural is there within maybe 15 minutes.Of course it is a private system here which has its major disadvantages for people who have no insurance.
I wonder if it is the midwife culture in the UK- as in since they can not administer it, they are not so keen on it-it seems like they want you to go through pain almost.Your poor sister. I feel for her.Must have been really upsetting to be ignored.
The truth is people do not experience pain in the same way and for some the pain of labour is unbearable.Epidurals should be readily available for those that want them as in France.

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