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Should a spouse or partner be able to dictate what pain relief you have during labour?

(382 Posts)
palmtree90 Mon 17-Apr-17 08:41:48

So I'm not sure if this is because my lo is due to turn 2 very soon but I've realised I still harbour a lot of resentment towards my dh over his birth.

He was (is) my first child and when I went into labour it was hugely painful. The baby was back-to-back and I was being sick with every contraction from the beginning. They took me into hospital earlier than usual because I was so dehydrated from being sick and put me on a drip. By this time I'd been having contractions every few minutes for about 4-5 hours.

I didn't have a birth plan (other than to have a baby!) and although I had wanted a natural birth, I had no idea how painful it would be and I wanted an epidural. My dh didn't want me to have one and was very vocal about it. The midwife was on his side and kept discouraging me too. So I tried gas and air (it did nothing) and asked for an epidural again.

Again my dh said he didn't want me to. The nurse suggested pethidine which she said would help with the pain. It didn't - it just made me sleepy in the few minutes between each contraction.

After 10 hours they checked me and I was 5 cm and was told I had between 5-10 hours left to go. At this I just burst into tears and my dh finally agreed I could have the epidural. Anyway I had to wait 3 hours more to get it because of hold ups at the hospital.

After I'd had it and subsequently after the baby I started to feel so angry at my dh. I would never have denied him pain relief had it been the other way around and I felt it should have been my decision because it's my body.

I voiced this and had a cry soon after the birth and although he apologised I'm pretty sure he just thought I was hormonal (which I was). Well two years later, I'm not hormonal any more and still I feel so resentful.

I know I need to let it go and to still feel this way 2 years later is unreasonable but what I want to know is, was my dh UR during my labour or should a spouse be able to dictate what pain relief his wife has?

LifeOnHold17 Mon 17-Apr-17 08:43:53

Bloody hell. Absolutely not. He had no right and the midwife should have listened to you.


bigchris Mon 17-Apr-17 08:44:13

Bizarre that the medical staff listened to him and not you

I'd to for marital counselling tbh , that kind of thing doesn't go away on its own

MinkyWinky Mon 17-Apr-17 08:45:04

No. (that's all that needs to be said!) your body, your choice. (And I'm sorry you had such a horrible time)

sonyaya Mon 17-Apr-17 08:46:22

Terrible behaviour on his part.

thenightsky Mon 17-Apr-17 08:46:28

YANBU. You should be able to change your mind/plan at any point. It sounds like you were bullied. I'm surprised the midwife didn't support you though.

JacquesHammer Mon 17-Apr-17 08:47:07

Absolutely not.

I discussed my birth plan with ex-H. He felt very strongly he didn't want me to use pethidine so we agreed that we wouldn't.

However it was always my final choice. My body.

How could he have been so cruel to deny you adequate pain relief?

Iamastonished Mon 17-Apr-17 08:47:31

The woman in labour gets to dictate what she needs, not the partner. I would have complained to PALS about the midwife as well as telling my partner that it had nothing to do with him.

Patienceisvirtuous Mon 17-Apr-17 08:47:41

Is he always so controlling?

I'd still be furious too.

SaorAlbaGuBrath Mon 17-Apr-17 08:47:43

No, he should have been supporting you, not actively denying you pain relief! And I'm stunned that the midwives went along with him to be honest.

PrimeraVez Mon 17-Apr-17 08:47:53

Sorry but I think he was hugely unreasonable and I'm not surprised you feel a lot of resentment.

Surely all anyone watching their partner giving birth should want is for the baby to arrive safely, and the woman to have the most positive experience possible?

I also think it's wrong that the midwife also kept on discouraging you, unless there was a medical reason for this.

I didn't use any pain relief but that was entirely my choice (and I realise I'm lucky that I could have the choice) I was adamant about this from before labour even started and my DH was actually the one that was all 'wait and see how it goes when you're in there' etc etc.

I would try and have a really serious conversation with him about this, otherwise the resentment is only going to grow. Maybe try and understand why he felt this way. Did he think an epidural was dangerous?

Spudlet Mon 17-Apr-17 08:48:34

No, he should not have been able to do that. No wonder you feel resentful.

You could contact the hospital, perhaps via PALS or similar. My local hospital has a midwifery liaison service, I actually contacted them myself recently about my own experience (nothing to compare with yours) and was pleasantly surprised by the response. Might be worth seeing if there is something similar in your area? It might be a way to help you come to terms with what happened, and also might stop other women going through the same?

pipsqueak25 Mon 17-Apr-17 08:48:40

why did the mw not go with your wishes ? you were the patient and capable of making your needs known confused

HeyCat Mon 17-Apr-17 08:49:00

It was probably well-meaning: my DH discouraged me from having an epidural because I'd said originally I didn't want one, and he was trying to give me a pep talk/encourage me to keep going. I've known some women tell their husbands in advance not to let them have pain relief even if they ask for it in labour.

I do think it would be worth talking about again with him, give him a chance to hear you properly and to apologise again.

Gallavich Mon 17-Apr-17 08:49:10

No, he had no right to do that to you. Outrageous that he thought he did.

ScarletForYa Mon 17-Apr-17 08:50:00

How fucking dare he?

Confront him and let's hear him justify himself?

I couldn't forgive it. Is he a sadist or something?

Aria2015 Mon 17-Apr-17 08:50:03

Thanks for the replies. The midwife wasn't the best tbh. She was quite a severe woman and came across as if she disapproved of epidurals. She kept saying I was coping well and didn't one because I wasn't screaming and shouting. But I was basically stunned into silence by the pain!

OhMrBadger Mon 17-Apr-17 08:50:10


It should have been your decision alone. He had no right and it's not surprising that you still resent him now. I seem to remember my DH being a bit disapproving about me having an epidural but I think that was down to our NCT classes and a anti-pain relief teacher.

I suggest you contact the hospital PALS service to discuss why the midwife didn't listen to you. There may have been medical reasons why an epidural wasn't suitable but you won't know till you ask.

MrsKoala Mon 17-Apr-17 08:50:15

Why did it matter to him what pain relief you had? How does it affect him to the point he has any opinion? confused

That's astonishingly controlling behaviour i would also struggle with.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Mon 17-Apr-17 08:50:35

I think it might be ok for a partner to be encouraging and remind you of any past wishes/plans. Definitely not ok to prevent you making decisions. Birth plans are bollocks though because you write them not knowing how much it's going to hurt.

I wouldn't ttc again until you resolve this.

ZigZagIntoTheBlue Mon 17-Apr-17 08:50:53

When dh I had a tour of the antenatal ward pre dc1 there was a husband who asked this question, he said 'my wife and I have agreed she should have a natural delivery so will you refuse to give her pain relief'. Dh and I were shocked and the midwife very carefully said that although a lot of people want to try for a pain relief free delivery that things change and they'd always go with what the woman wants,it's her body. Have you ever asked to go over the notes from your delivery? Might be more info in there as to why the midwife was so anti. And yes to the pp who suggested counselling, I would've banned my dh from the room and told him to bugger right off for intentionally keeping me in pain! Does he ignore your feelings day to day? Is he anti pain relief in all ways, would he himself take something for a headache or accept pain relief in hospital?

ElisavetaFartsonira Mon 17-Apr-17 08:51:34

You need to make a complaint about the hospital. Then you need to think about how you're going to address this with DH.

I can all too easily see how this happened, unfortunately, given the anti pain relief agenda that some (not all by any means) midwives have. A midwife who's decided she wants to save you from yourself and a partner being controlling is a toxic combination and I can quite see how you ended up being denied what you needed.

msgrinch Mon 17-Apr-17 08:54:10

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Increasinglymiddleaged Mon 17-Apr-17 08:54:46

I was wtaf when I heard some bloke recounting his child's birth experience on the radio and he said 'we didn't want an epidural' shockshock

Yanbu op and if you feel that the hospital took DH's views over yours then please complain. It is your body not his.

Janeofalltrades1 Mon 17-Apr-17 08:55:51

He should not be able to withhold epidural from you! That's insane! I don't even know why the midwife listened to him!

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