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to wonder, where the move towards 'epidurals are wimping out' ideas come from?

(215 Posts)
Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 21:30:57

I very strongly believe that every woman should be encouraged and supported to have the birth that they want, whatever they want to do.

But I've noticed over the past few years - anecdotally, on places like MN - that there is this background belief from some women that other women who have an epidural are somehow 'giving up' or 'not woman enough to cope' or 'not embracing a natural pain'.

Now I really don't care how people give birth, as long as they've been supported by their healthcare professionals to achieve what they want, because all that matters is that the mum and baby are both well. I understand the cascade of intervention that an epidural may bring, and that a pain relief free vaginal birth is probably, on the balance of things, better for both the mum and the baby as long as everything is going well.

But I can't help but wonder how or where the natural birth push has morphed into some people being so anti-epidural for other women, into the sort of judgement that someone women seem to embrace at the moment?

MrsTerryPratchett Fri 23-Aug-13 22:08:43

I ended up with an epidural after my very anti-intervention MW told me to get one. She said, rightly, that I just couldn't carry on after days and only 2cm. When I finally got a CS, the surgeon said that DD was "the most perfectly posterior baby" he had ever seen. Hence the screaming agony, then.

ImFineThankYou Fri 23-Aug-13 22:09:21

My labour was 50+ hours. Went to hospital after struggling for two days at home to find I was one fucking centimetre dilated.
I have never been so disappointed.
It got to the point where I was delirious from the pain, not coping and struggling to carry on in any way. Everyone was suggesting epidural. I agreed.
It was the only intervention I had.
To this day I feel disappointed in myself. I feel like I 'failed'. Like I couldn't do it by myself. I feel I let myself down.
Stupid right?
Someone once asked me if I'd had a natural birth and I replied no because I still to this day feel I didn't.

ReallyTired Fri 23-Aug-13 22:11:12

"I was certainly more scared of an epidural than the actual labour."

That is an example of NCT propaganda terrifying pregnant women.

Finickynotfussy a mobile epidural is just a different cocktail of drugs which allows the woman some movement and feeling. You can feel the contractions with a mobile epi and you know when to push, but 90% of the pain is gone. I believe that mobile epi drugs cost more.

moble monitoring is an IT issue, but you can have a mobile epi with traditional monitoring. Excessive continous montioring can cause a cascade of intervention. Unless someone is watching the trace continously then there is little benefit of continous monitioring.

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:12:34

I'm sorry you feel like that, Imfine.

There must be something out there that is making women feel like they have failed. But what?

FWIW, I also had one of those two day, regular contraction labours that barely took me to 4cm. I was so exhausted that unless I went from 4cm-10cm in twenty minutes, I was never going to manage with the rest from an epidural.

But who cares why or when?

It genuinely makes me very angry that somewhere out there, somehow, women are being fed the message that by having an epidural they have 'failed'.

TarkaTheOtter Fri 23-Aug-13 22:16:08

Lots of random thoughts on this:

badguider that's exactly how I see it - as I was flat on my back anyway I had nothing to lose.

I wouldn't say I had a mobile epidural but it was definitely "light touch" as I could tell when I needed to push (felt pressure but no pain) and could walk as soon as back on postnatal ward. It was great!

I do think a lot is timing though. Because I gave birth quite quickly after epidural was sited they didn't bother with a catheter which helped recovery.

Fwiw whilst my NCT classes were pro-active birth, I didn't get the impression they were anti-epidural.

I think this is bigger than childbirth though. I remember feeling pretty pleased with myself recently when I had a filling without local anasthetic.

NorksAreMessy Fri 23-Aug-13 22:16:27

Given the choice, I would have had one for the conception grin

nenevomito Fri 23-Aug-13 22:16:42

When I had both DCs I had every form of pain relief they could throw at me.

No guilt here.

useful drugs, no pain. Whoop!

mamamidwife Fri 23-Aug-13 22:17:17

Very true Thurlow, it would be lovely to get the birth we want, in the method we choose but life isn't like that smile the best way is to be open minded, go with the flow, those people have the best birth experiences rather than people who are very prescriptive about what birth they want- often they end up disappointed if things don't go to plan.
Pain and coping with pain is such an individual experience anyway.
I know I coped ok and was well supported by my midwife and using g&a, but as soon as they put syntocinon up I was desperate for an epidural because that stuff is brutal!
Then no pain, epidural was fantastic!
until I went to theatre for an em LSCS and they topped up epidural too much and gave me a high spinal block, and I couldn't breathe, ooops

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:18:00

I did both NCT and NHS classes with DD1 (overkill!) and they both gave very similar messages.

I was also disappointed with the session about BF that we got with the NCT which I also felt glossed over / failed to mention possible probs and what to do and who to talk to and just felt incomplete. This is best for bay do it do it problems? there are no problems.... etc. I had close friends with babies already who had BF and all had difficulties to some extent but apparently the idea that I knew 6 people well who had all BF and all had difficulties was - I think she said - extraordinarily unlikely / impossible - basically she accused me of lying although what she thought my motivation was is a mystery.

All in all, frankly, I found that the advice and support I received from midwives, NHS and NCT, during pregnancy and birth, was shit. Looking back on it hmm

The bits that were done well were the medical tests and checkups and ultrasounds and stuff, and the medical team who did my EMCS.

FacebookWanker Fri 23-Aug-13 22:18:41

I think there is some luck involved. My Labour with DD was only 7 hours a nd I was 8cm dilated by the time they let me turn up at the hospital. She was born an hour after the initial check so I doubt there would have been any point in an epidural.

If I had been in Labour for 20 hours I would have welcomed an bbc epidural. Definitely.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:18:52

bay = baby

FacebookWanker Fri 23-Aug-13 22:19:33

I have such problems typing on a Kindle

brdgrl Fri 23-Aug-13 22:23:53

I had an epidural with DD. She was back-to-back and it was a long labour that ended with them getting me all prepped for a caesarean. Then this other (absolutely gorgeous, I noticed through my tired haze...) doctor came in and got her out with forceps. No regrets.

I actually decided at the beginning of my pregnancy that I wanted to have an epidural. There was so much pressure everywhere I turned about having a 'natural' birth (like an epidural makes in unnatural?)...I was genuinely afraid that I would be refused one. I made DH swear that he would fight my corner if there was any resistance about it on the night. At the prenatal classes, when they asked if there were any questions, my hand was up like a shot = when do I get my epidural? smile

I'm no wimp, and I certainly never felt like a failure. I was almost 40, I was well-educated and well aware of all the choices available to me, and this was what I wanted.

Wallison Fri 23-Aug-13 22:24:46

Is a bbc epidural one that Jeremy Paxman gives you?

I always thought that epidurals increased the likelihood of other interventions such as forceps and ventouse, which is why they are discouraged (and personally, I would rather have had a c section than either of those options).

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Fri 23-Aug-13 22:26:10

I loved my epidural when I had DD. It made her birth bearable.
With DS the evil midwife refused me pain relief. By the time I saw a good midwife who knew her arse from her elbow, it was too late for an epidural as I was 9cms (on just sodding co-codamol angry despite me screaming for an epidural for about 2 hours and being told I was not established enough for one... yeah right!).
I ended up with pethadine (which I didn't want, but was all that they would give me) and gas and air. I was in agony!
I didn't feel a failure either time. I just felt better supported by my midwife with DD, as she listened to me when I was in pain, and she helped ease it.
My first birth was a much better experience thanks to the pain relief, and much better midwifery care.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:26:48

BBC epidural is the one where they say you can't have it unless you agree to give birth live on telly. Is the way they get people to do those progs wink

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:26:50

My friend who wants the hypno-water birth, I have been trying to gently explain to her that there are a lot of reasons utterly outside of anyone's control why that might not happen. Back to back baby, waters breaking early, bacterial infections... I definitely agree that anyone with too strict a birth plan can get very, very upset by things not going to plan. It's a great thing to have an idea what you want, but I believe women should know about the things that can change their birth plan, and understand that a bacterial infection might mean a heavily monitored, bed-based labour.

I agree luck comes into it. If you dilate quickly and your baby is in a good position then you are well placed for a quick labour. But the reasons that can cause a slower or problematic labour aren't exactly anything caused by the mum.

Ignores the friend who asked me what I had 'done' to get a bacterial infection hmm

jacks365 Fri 23-Aug-13 22:29:37

I was more scared of the epidural than the thought of birth too but I've never been near the nct in my life. I was carefully talked through all the options by my midwife beforehand including effectiveness and side effects and I very much went into it with a wait and see. That went out of the window and I delivered with no pain relief because my labour progressed very fast. I have 4 dc and have spent a total of 3 hours in labour my dsis on the other hand had the total opposite experience and ended up with an epidural after 40 hours of labour, she had done nct classes makes you wonder whether they perhaps put so much stress on women that it can be perfect with the right attitude that living up to it is impossible.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Fri 23-Aug-13 22:30:02

I should add DD was born back to back, so I was very glad of the epidural. I didn't need any interventions at all, and no tears. I guess that was down to a good midwife though, and not the epidural.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:30:05

Anecdotally. Like really anecdotally. Like, my mum grin

Says that the midwives don't like to allow epidural because then the woman goes from "midwife care" to "surgical / medical care" and the midwives don't like that as the woman is off their "patch", and it goes on their stats and so on.

Of course my mum (like many parents) talks rubbish quite a lot and she had a vested interest (working in a hospital on the surgical/medical side)... But still. I didn't dismiss the idea out of hand when she told me. But then I had terrible experiences with midwives and great ones with the medical crew so I would wonder if there was something in it.

Wallison Fri 23-Aug-13 22:30:37

grin NiceTabard

Wallison Fri 23-Aug-13 22:32:06

I'm probably wrong about epidurals increasing the risk of other interventions btw - it's just what I was told and have heard it since.

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:34:51

The increase of intervention - I haven't seen the studies personally, I'm not medically minded. But I wonder if a study has been done that can compare interventions for women who have epidurals v women who have had very long labours (i.e. 30+ hours of regular contractions before pushing stage, if not before active labour). Personally speaking, I reckon I would have had more intervention without an epidural and some rest, than with no epidural but no rest. There's only so long a body can go with no rest, food or liquid before it loses the ability to do anything impressive.

NiceTabard Fri 23-Aug-13 22:41:27

Wallison I was told that as well and I'm sure statistically it's true.

But I wonder sometimes about whether the pain in childbirth is sort of underplayed - or something - something is going on. As even if pain relief means escalation of intervention, if a person is in a lot of pain they they need and deserve pain relief and under no other circs would they be denied just in case they lead to something else which may or may not turn out to be a bad thing.

My mum (yes her again) reckons that because in the bible it says that women must suffer in birth, that attitude has come down, throughout the ages. She has views, yes she does grin

Thurlow Fri 23-Aug-13 22:44:33

I might be very wrong, but I thought that the suffering in childbirth was explained in the Bible as women's punishment for Eve?

Is it really as simple as that belief pervading? I can see that the medical intervention of previous decades (twilight sleep and all that) was a step too far, but now some people seem to think we should come back full circle and 'embrace the pain'.

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