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Discovery Health - Baby Story... EPIDURALS ALL ROUND!!

(91 Posts)
M2T Wed 10-Sep-03 15:19:28

I have confessed to being slightly obsessed with the afore mentioned Maternity and Labour program... On Discovery Health there is a British program and an American one.

Why are American woman made to lie on there back whilst in labour, it looks awful!


Is it just me or does it seem standard for an American woman to have an epidural?? And it seems to me that a C-section is offered if the woman feels too tired to carry on with the rest of the labour!!
One woman had got to 9'5 cm dilated, but the Doctor offered her a C-section coz she was getting tired. As far as I could tell there was NO medical reason why she should have a section. I dare say there are a lot of women that would say yes to a C section when they had been in labour for 12 hours and were 9cm dilated, but is it really the best for Mum or Baby???

Have I got it all wrong? Maybe some of you American Mums can set me straight.

Northerner Wed 10-Sep-03 15:26:37

I've also noticed that the American women have loads of people at the delivery - partner/bestfriend/parents/parents in law/aunts/uncles/neighbours etc! And the British women usually just have their partner present.

M2T Wed 10-Sep-03 15:31:09

I would quite like my Mum to be there as well as my partner.... or perhaps my bestfriend there for a while, but is there anyu need for all those faces staring at yer crotch!!

And is there any need for all those Epidurals and C-Sections (especially the C-sections!).

Jemma7 Wed 10-Sep-03 16:19:13

Good thread M2T - I am absolutely obsessed with all the pregnancy programmes on Discovery Health.

Needless to say DP shouts and me endlessly for watching "Such Rubbish" - i tried to get him to watch one the other day but i thought he was going to pass out when it got the actually delivery stage - Bless

I've noticed that too - there was one on at the weekend and there was obviously the new babay's parents, her mum, his mum, her brother and his wife and the grandparents were waiting outside!

Whne my sister-in-law had her baby girl in May we weren't even aloud to wait outside her room until the other visitors had gone about 10 hours later.
She was booked in for a C-section as she has a tilted womb (?) and narrow waist so is unable to give birth naturally - her dp is useless with blood and things so it was agreed that her mum would go in - The doctors weren't going to let her DP wait outside the operating room.
Good job he's a big bloke and wouldn't take no for an answer - Makes me mad that if it was someone who wouldn't argue they would miss the first few minutes!

pupuce Wed 10-Sep-03 16:41:19

Luckily I don't have Sky but some of my clients do so I have been known to watch it and - luckily again it wasn't at my house because I felt like throwing objects at the tele!!!

There are hardly ever any "normal" / natural births... and the British births are riddled with Diamorphine! And they make it sound like that's absolutely OK...
"Gemma has now opted for diamorphine as she finds the contractions too painful"... matter of fact !
No one mentions that diamorphine passes to the baby.... and it is a strong drug!

When you have a water birth it is THE exception... it is just sad

wobblymum Wed 10-Sep-03 17:38:56

Why do all the American women, even the ones who seem to be having perfectly normal labours, seem to be constantly monitored??

I'm glad I'm not having a baby in the US. There'd have to be at least 20 people in the room at a time (At mine there were a maximum of 3! DH and one or two midwives!), plus I'd have to be strapped up to every machine ever invented, with an epidural in my back, pethidine in my leg, a rectal thermometer up my (you know where it goes) just to start the 1st stage!!!! Couldn't be doing with all that!

When I went into labour, I took my bag (which had everything I wanted to take for the whole stay) and that was a big gym bag, which I thought was more than enough. But the American women take a duvet, a blown-up gym ball, 4 pillows, a shoulder bag, a small bag which they're carrying and their DH/DP follows with a wheeled suitcase, a huge bag over his shoulder and a few carrier bags!!!!! It's insane! They looked more prepared for a few hours in hospital than I am when going on 2 weeks holiday!!!! Then, to really take the cake, after delivery, they send their DP home for 'all their stuff'!!!!

wobblymum Wed 10-Sep-03 17:41:50

By the way, M2T, sorry to pick on your original post (One woman had got to 9'5 cm dilated) but I can't get the idea of someone being 9 feet dilated out of my head!!! Does the midwife crawl in and carry the baby out?

(sorry, must grow up a bit!!)

katierocket Wed 10-Sep-03 18:58:11

she'd probably need some kind of miners helmet with a little light attached.

SoupDragon Wed 10-Sep-03 19:03:21


I suspect the highly medicalised births in America are due in part to the "Sue the Pants off Everyone" culture.

aloha Wed 10-Sep-03 19:44:46

I bet their infant mortality rate is really low though.

motherinferior Wed 10-Sep-03 20:04:38

Aloha, I think that's probably true for people who can pay for good healthcare and not for those who can't. I don't know anything about it, but would hazard a highly uninformed guess that nutrition/health levels are pretty awful for poorer people in the US.

Claireandrich Wed 10-Sep-03 20:07:22

I remeber watching these whilst I was pregnant with DD (now 17mo) with fascination. I don't have Sky anymore (yet!) but they sound just the same as they were. It always amazed me at how many people were present at the time too.

judetheobscure Wed 10-Sep-03 20:15:48

I wonder how many women in *this* country (UK) have a birth where they are able to move around, rather than being flat on a bed. It's certainly not the majority.

Would be interested to see statistics (if available) comparing not just levels of infant and maternal mortality with diferent modes of birth but also infant and maternal morbidity. Obviously a very complex picture but I would suggest many problems arise as a direct result of various interventions.

aloha Wed 10-Sep-03 20:20:14

I know everyone's different, but it seems to me it's as hard to get a painfree birth in the UK as it might be to get all-singing, all-dancing active birth in the US. And I have to say, I know which I'd prefer - and it involvee major drugs. IN fact, it involves a nice section, thank you very much. I can't think of a single situation in life when I wouldn't prefer to be lying down!

aloha Wed 10-Sep-03 20:26:00

I also suppose it depends on whether you regard a section as a disaster or as an early Christmas present...

pupuce Wed 10-Sep-03 21:11:52

You may find this on US stats of interest.
And on this page you have infant mortality stats in the US.

I am sure there must be UK data somewhere though I doubt we are equipped to draw comparissons.

Certainly they have more preterm babies in the US, they also have a higher rate of sections... whilst other European countries have a lower one... UK is catching up fast with the 25% section rate of the US.

I don't think one can change the mind of those really convinced that they would prefer a ceasarean section (if they have no medical/psycological reason to "need" one) - a lot is based on fear and not always on lack of information. What I find quite revealing is how many mumsnetters DO want a VBAC! SO all the horrid stories and their first labour haven't completely put them off

aloha Wed 10-Sep-03 21:20:51

I'm not scared, more appalled at the prospect of a 'normal' birth. I'm not frightened of pain, I just don't want to experience it, personally. But I do realise some people feel the same about sections. But just as it's probably harder to get, say, a waterbirth, in the US, it seems to me it's very hard to get an epidural or a section in the UK. Or even to see a dr, if some threads are anything to go on!

aloha Wed 10-Sep-03 21:25:14

It's clear that as Motherinferior says, it's poverty that skews the figures in the US, and the inequality of a health service that relies on private insurance and throws those who can't afford it to the wolves. Which is what makes me shudder so much about plans for the NHS here, I suppose.

pupuce Wed 10-Sep-03 21:25:34

It is NOT hard to get an epidural... at most labours I have attended it was offered (even if not asked) !
You may be refused an epidural if you are believed to be to close to delivery. It takes about 1 hour from asking for it to having it working (if it works well - which is by no means guaranteed) and that is if the aneasthetist is nearby. So if you are in transition (i.e. 8 or 9 cm) you should be delivering soon... and an epidural for JUST the pushing stage is not going to help the mother.

As for a section, most women wanting a VBAC get offered a section, the same is true for breech (you will be ACTIVELY discouraged and even criticised by the medical staff).
I am currently supporting 2 women who are having to argue with their consultant to let them try !

aloha Wed 10-Sep-03 21:29:55

I personally know women who were put in the awful, humiliating position of having to 'beg' for an epidural, and being told they couldn't have one or being told they were 'doing so well' and didn't need one - which I really think is a decision for the woman and not the midwife. Of non-existent anaesthetists, so women are in agony for ages waiting for one to turn up, and many other horror stories of women being in pain which is not treated. I think it is very, very common. And elective sections are hard to get unoless you are going to die otherwise. There are threads on this subject to. Equally there are threads about women wanting vaginal births who face opposition. I think that's dreadful too.

WideWebWitch Wed 10-Sep-03 21:31:26

Looking forward to watching this one develop

aloha Wed 10-Sep-03 21:32:28

Are you sure an epidural takes an hour to work? My spinal block took about ten minutes, if I recall correctly.

Claireandrich Wed 10-Sep-03 21:34:41

I think what this thread is starting to show is that women in pregnancy, childbirth and labour need a little more 'care' and 'information' than they are currently getting in a number of cases. Certainly I feel that women (round where we live anyway) are often treated with 'pregancy and child birth are naturally, we've been doing it for years' type comments. However times have changed. Many women do not grow up with pregnancy and child birth aorund them any more, and many women with their first baby don't know what to expect, etc. I, presonally, think this is where the chages in care needs to be.

pupuce Wed 10-Sep-03 21:41:28

An epidural takes a good while to install (certainly 20 to 30 minutes and often longer as they may miss, mother is having contractions so the aneast. has to stop, etc).... and then the drug itself takes about 20 minutes to work.
I have never seen it done in less than 1hour. A spinal block is MUCH faster and is what women get if they have an emergecny section and they didn't have an epidural. But a spinal block like a GA are not good for babies (cross to placenta) so they are meant for last minute operations not for long term pain relief.

mears Wed 10-Sep-03 21:43:19

Aloha - spinal anaesthetics are different from epidurals - they work very quickly. It takes about 20 mins to get an epidural sited and starting to work. It takes 45-60min for it to be totally effective. The downside is that if an epidural goes in when you are in advanced labour, you increase your chance of a forceps delivery. The aftermath of that is more painful than a normal delivery so what you have sufferred in the pain stakes of labour, you may well suffer more post forceps delivery. Epidurals are not necessarily the best things for a normally progressing labour. It has to be remembered that it is an invasive procedure, causes drop in blood pressure often which makes you vomit and also causes the baby's heart rate to fall and then you have no sensation to push. In the time it takes to do all that, the baby could be out

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