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(Trigger Warning!!!) To think labour pain is not respected by healthcare professionals?

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Goldfishshoals Fri 21-Apr-17 12:30:49

Warning: you probably don't want to read this if pregnant/about to give birth!

Three weeks ago I gave birth. I had back labour - truly agonising. The pains started on Friday, but because they were about five-six minutes apart they were arbitrarily considered 'pre-labour' rather than actual labour (despite hurting as much as 'real' labour pains). They continued like that for four days, in which time I obviously got no sleep. I called the midwife for help several times and was fobbed off with 'take paracetamol', which unsurprisingly did bugger all for the intense stabbing sensation in my back every contraction. After one call in which I cried they let me come in (30 mins car ride there and back in pain!) and have a single dose of coedine (barely took the edge off) before sending me home.

On Tuesday my waters broke so I was finally allowed in the hospital for monitoring - I pretty much immediately begged for pain relief. 'of course you can have some!' said the midwife breezily before buggering off for fifteen minutes leaving me in pain. Then she came back and said she just had to ask a few questions then 'we'd see' about getting me some pain relief... I did eventually get given some gas and air.

My contractions never became more frequent on their own and eventually I ended up being induced with epidural - which wore off just in time for me to be fully dialated. First they said they'd get me more - then they said it was too late and gave me gas and air - which they took off me again when it was time for pushing. I begged for pain relief (for anything!) and was ignored. I struggled to push but the pain was overwhelming and stopped me being able to push fully. Baby eventually delivered with forceps, and episiotomy which I could barely feel in contrast to the agony I had been in.

I had third degree tear which needed stitching, and suddenly everything changed. I had an anaesthesitist numb me fully, and keep checking my pain levels for the theatre, I had a few days in hospital with three types of pain relief thrown at me, and I was sent home with boxes of unnecessary coedine etc, for the incredibly minor soreness of the stitches.

When I compare other hospital visits (for being run over by a car as a teen, and a more recent dvt) it's a similar story. My pain was taken a lot more seriously and I was given better pain relief much more quickly, despite them not being nearly as painful as my back labour.

I realise not everyone has back labour, and some people have much less painful births (lucky cows) but surely having high levels of pain isn't that unique? So why wasn't it treated seriously? The only thing I can think of is that labour pain just isn't respected. Aibu to think this?

iloveruby Fri 21-Apr-17 12:34:06

Congratulations on your baby! But no, you are not being unreasonable.

I'm sure if men gave birth there would be a completely different approach to pain management.

dreamingofsun Fri 21-Apr-17 12:38:14

not a dissimilar experience to me. my first birth very quick and minimal pain relief, so the view was the second would be a piece of cake. yes it was quick but very painful. for the third one this was one of my main concerns and the doctor recommended paracetamol type stuff. after a lot of huffing and puffing at the doctors a lovely female doctor got in touch with the hospital and the head anethatist spent some of her lunch break chatting to me. as a result she wrote something along the lines of can have an epidural across my notes in red. the nurses still weren't keen when i went in. had an emergency caesarean in the end for the 3rd and that was fab.

i think one of the problems is that they only have a limited number of trained staff to administer these so they like to keep it for the essential cases

Xmasbaby11 Fri 21-Apr-17 12:38:25

I agree with you OP. I was crying with pain with my contractions, even the early ones. 24 hours of pain. Tried everything but only the epidural touched the sides. I felt it was bordering inhumane to suffer that much pain and also be trying to push a baby out.

It caused a prolapse which I've had 2 operations on. Had a chance section for dd2 which was far superior.

LuxuryWoman2017 Fri 21-Apr-17 12:38:41

No, I don't think you are Aibu, there is a lot of disrespect (for want of a much better word) around labour and after the birth. Post natal wards can be hellish, the way a woman can be spoken to if she finds breastfeeding difficult, the being sent home after just a few hours, often bewildered and in pain.

I do think it's because it's a woman thing, I really do. There are still cultures where a woman is expected to rest for a month after giving birth and do little other than feed her child. We are expected to just get on with it and I don't think it's good enough. With resources so stretched though I don't know what can be done.

It was certainly the most all consuming pain I ever felt and I can't think of any other syndrome/illness/condition where a person would be expected to put up with it, if pain relief is at all possible.

froofroomcgoo Fri 21-Apr-17 12:39:45

YANBU - it's a disgrace.

Moanyoldcow Fri 21-Apr-17 12:39:52

Congratulations on your baby!

I think this depends on where you end up giving birth and the particular midwife. Mine was excellent, kept me well monitored and topped up the epidural regularly and advised me when she was near the limit of what i could have and therefore did I want to wait for a bit longer etc.

It was different from you as I was induced on a drip from the beginning with an epidural but I felt the contractions and had no pain at all. I ended up with an emcs however and was very grateful for the piles of painkillers I was discharged with.

RandomDent Fri 21-Apr-17 12:40:08

I had a c section, eyebrows raised when I mentioned that paracetamol wasn't exactly doing the trick.

Four weeks later was in hospital having surgery, was offered pretty much anything I wanted pain relief wise. Morphine, tramadol, codeine, the works. The CS was much more painful and I got nothing. grin

Moanyoldcow Fri 21-Apr-17 12:40:49

Sorry, posted too quickly.

What happened to you though was terrible - they should have listened to you properly. I hope you are okay now and not traumatised by the experience.

MichaelSheensNextDW Fri 21-Apr-17 12:40:53

If men gave birth, I don't think anyone would be expected to experience an effectively medicated delivery, whether vaginal or caesarean. I believe there are a lot of incidences of undiagnosed and untreated birth trauma leading to PND and other issues because of the experience of pain, and crucially, caregivers response to it.

MichaelSheensNextDW Fri 21-Apr-17 12:41:21

sorry, UNmedicated delivery

Moanyoldcow Fri 21-Apr-17 12:42:49

@RandomDent - you got nothing for your CS? That's insane! I was given Codeine and Diclofenac (and liquid morphine whilst I was in the hospital) with a very stern talking to about how I should NOT let up taking them for about 2/3 weeks.

You poor thing

TotalPineapple Fri 21-Apr-17 12:42:56

YANBU, it's shocking. We really need more research into safe pain relief for labouring women (and their babies). We need to get past the bullshit that we can't do anything about ill or in pain pregnant women because it's unethical.

I only had gas and air and I was 'doing it wrong' (maybe there should have been some advice on how to do it at antenatal, before I was in too much pain to listen?). I was so high I was almost blacking out and thought I was dying. I would have asked for something stronger/different but I was in the pool and was only coming round long enough to ask if I was dying (which was apparently hilarious for everyone that didn't think they were fucking dying).

xForsythia Fri 21-Apr-17 12:43:49

absolutely not!

You are not taken seriously at all with your first baby anyway. The casual attitude about labour pain is outrageous, sadly very common. For no other medical reason will you be treated that way.

The consequences of horrendous births are also completely forgotten, no one cares about all the mothers completely traumatised, the ones suffering from PND, unable to breastfeed, unable to have their life back.

I had to fight hard to get an epidural with my 3rd, because it was (genuinely) very late, officially much too late, but bollocks to that, it was absolutely worth it.

I would make a complaint to the hospital, and hope something will improve for the next patients.

Disclaimer: some midwives are genuinely lovely and caring. It's unbelievable that childbirth is deemed the least worth of pain relief of all the medical reasons that bring you to a hospital.

firawla Fri 21-Apr-17 12:46:27

Yanbu, they can be very arbitrary at times - expecting contractions to be perfectly evenly spaced in order to get pain relief, not everyone's labour goes by perfectly evenly spaced contractions! I had similiar but on a lesser scale - I went in the evening to get checked, and was sent home, pain ramped up over night so went back in. Midwife wasn't keen for me to even go back in as I couldn't tell her that contractions were exactly 2,3 min apart or whatever (they varied) but I went in, she put me on the monitor and said "oh yes, strong contractions but they're not totally evenly spaced so you might not actually be in labour" - you could tell by looking and listening to me during contractions that I was in labour!! She then checked dilation and had to admit I was, and give me the gas and air, but I did feel she had been quite dismissive and had I not insisted on going in she didn't even want me there! That was my 4th baby and she was born within the next couple of hours so I could have hardly stayed home that much longer!
I had a much more caring experience with my other labours (different hospitals) so think it's luck of the draw but yadnbu that attitude is definitely there!
Congratulations on your lovely baby though! And sorry about your crap experience flowers

Batteriesallgone Fri 21-Apr-17 12:46:34

Can't complain with my experience - I was told I was in pre-labour so there was a limit to the pain relief, but the why was properly explained (only limited number of options of pain relief that won't travel to baby, and a baby born sluggish/unresponsive can be dangerous; stuff like epidural requires monitoring and admission so that would mean no going back home which I wanted to do, etc). I was offered and accepted oramorph and although it didn't help hugely with the pain I felt respected and in control.


I was talking to a friend the other day about having been given oramorph during labour and she was told at her NHS antenatal classes that it was 'basically heroin' (WTF?) and that it was 'exceedingly dangerous' to the baby. Which is total bollocks. So clearly some midwives have no fucking idea about even mild pain relief options, preferring to think of all of it as evil. Same midwife told them all no pain relief would even be considered unless they were screaming and incoherent from the pain. Sounds like a peach, don't she.

HumphreyCobblers Fri 21-Apr-17 12:46:43

Being palmed off with paracetamol and ibruprofen after my section was deeply annoying.

I checked with the doctors beforehand and they assured me that they didn't leave patients in pain in that hospital. Didn't make any difference when on the ward though. I was in agony.

DavidBowieMime Fri 21-Apr-17 12:51:41

Agree op I also had a back to back birth it was agonizing and all in my back which really surprised me - of course we didn't know she was back to back until she was born.

I like the angle you have come at this from its a very very good point.

BeyondUser24601 Fri 21-Apr-17 12:59:29


My poor experience with #1 wasn't pain relief related though, it was the midwife refusing to take my quick labour seriously. My body started to push and she told me off, said I was hours away from giving birth. DS got distressed and was born 30 mins later by ventouse (because of the distress). I wholeheartedly believe if she had trusted me he wouldn't have had any problems.

Birth #2 was very different, I was very insistent that they take my fast labour risk seriously and had a trusting midwife who believed me and let me take charge smile

MerlinsScarf Fri 21-Apr-17 13:00:40

YANBU in the slightest. The attitude seems to be that the pain is fine because it's all to be expected, particularly in the earlier stages. I would even say there's a bit of smirking about it along the lines of, 'oh silly mums to be, they all say that'. There are lots of midwives and doctors and nurses who do a wonderful job, and safe delivery is of course the main priority, but this shouldn't be happening.

Boofeckinghoo Fri 21-Apr-17 13:06:36

Congratulations flowers


I don't think labour pain is taken as seriously, no.
I think some people honestly think because it's been going on for thousands of years we should just push on through: "you're not the first person to have a baby" is the bollocks some people come out with.

My first birth was 18hrs, pain was well managed and I had lovely midwives, codeine, episiotomy, gas and air. They even put bloody relaxing reiki music on without being asked.
Second was 3 hours and I was in absolute agony. I had gas and air but told that it as it was too late for anything further. At this point I passed out. I was shaken awake by a brusque midwife and told I hadn't got time to "go to sleep" FFS. I couldn't wait to get out of hospital. It was awful. In the weeks that followed I kept reliving the trauma and realised I thought at the time I was going to die. Time helped me come to terms with it eventually.

Same hospital, 3 years apart but very different experiences.

There is a definite trauma that comes with some births that really is not adequately supported. I found breastfeeding support to be a postcode lottery too. No sleep, bleeding nipples and I felt in hell.

Avioleta Fri 21-Apr-17 13:06:56


Women's pain is frequently dismissed and belittled. I was reading and interesting article about it recently. I'll see if I can find it.

Morphene Fri 21-Apr-17 13:07:26


The fall out from ignoring people in agony is huge.

I lost years of my life to post traumatic depression.

I still feel (on the bad days) that I was tortured.

I would love to see an MN campaign on this.

terrylene Fri 21-Apr-17 13:09:17

Beyond - my trouble too was being taken seriously about the speed of labour. The first time was forgivable, because no one could have known and the midwife did an excellent job as soon as she realised (I hadn't a clue - just could not deal with the speed of the contractions) DS was also distressed, but fortunately settled down after they moved me into the delivery room just in case.

Second time was twins. Noone wanted to know about previous delivery 'all labours are different' and I was offered pethidine in spite of painless (weird after the previous time confused ) contractions about 30 minutes before they arrived.

Epidural would probably have been a problem though as the anaesthetist was shared with A&E and therefore not always available when required - best to ask asap for that.

bookbuddy Fri 21-Apr-17 13:09:17

Ynbu I had quick and intensely painful back labours with both of mine. I had morphine and gas and air it didn't touch the pain just made me feel incredibly sick. I begged for an epidural both times and both times told I could but then it became too late! I wouldn't even consider a third child now it took me years to consider the second.

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