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To have or not have an epidural?

(27 Posts)
cupcake78 Mon 21-Jan-13 14:02:41

I'm beginning to consider an epidural after saying I'd never have one.

Ds was a long (almost 5 days) labour with contractions every 15mins day and night until my waters were broken. He was back to back, which i didnt know till it was too late and a very big baby (9lbs 5). By the time it was over I was exhausted and the following days/weeks in hospital and home were stressful and anxiety ridden. I struggled as I never really recovered from labour for months as ds was a terrible sleeper and feeder and developed colic.

I am only 18wks but do not want to be that exhausted with this one. It's one of the aspects of this baby that I worry about, infact dread.
Until now I've been scared of
getting a catheter fitted and heard horror stories of back ache, prolapses, no bowel or bladder control afterwards etc .

My mum thinks I'm mad not to consider it after last time, dh just wants me to be as least stressed as possible.

didireallysaythat Mon 21-Jan-13 14:06:05

I know some women don't like the idea but I have no regrets as it made me feel like I was still in control (9lbs 9oz forceps, tears etc). Second time I requested an elective which I found just great and for me a lot easier to recover from. Whatever you decide, good luck !

iliketea Mon 21-Jan-13 14:12:17

I had one when I was induced (at 38 weeks, it took 3 days for me to be dilated enough to have waters broken (contractions every 10 mins or so from day 2) and I was sp knackered I couldn't manage the pain (dd was back to back too). I had dull back ache for a few days afterwards bur no other problems, and it allowed me to get some desparately needed dozing. I ended up with a c-section and the epidural was just topped up for the surgery rather than needing a spinal anaesthetic. If I ever have another, and was persuaded to have a VBAC, I would request an epidural without question.

Some hospitals have mobile epidural systems where you can walk around, but still have pain managed - could that be a compromise?

FirstTimeForEverything Mon 21-Jan-13 14:21:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BackforGood Mon 21-Jan-13 14:26:55

I had one with my first. It was a life saver at the time. (well, not literally I suppose, but I was just at the end of my tether and couldn't have gone on). Didn't have any of the horror stories I've read of on MN. My sister would say the same... in fact, when I got to my due date, "Get an epidural as soon as you can" was her only piece of advice.

The only time I've had a catheter was after my 3rd, when I didn't have an epidural, so it doesn't follow that you'd end up with a catheter. tbh, the thought of a catheter is much worse than the reality, too.

poozlepants Mon 21-Jan-13 15:01:56

My epidural was fab. I was basically in so much pain ds was back to back and I had been induced. Putting it in was easy and I had it re-sited and I didn't really notice it. I was then topped up about 10 minutes later as Ds's heart rate disappeared due to a quick descent and the cord around his neck twice and I was being prepped for theatre but ended up having a forceps. So I was pretty much dead from the chest down. I could still push effectively, it wore off pretty quickly and didn't have to have a catheter. I had no problems at all with any after effects. I know a number of people who had one and they didn't have any problems either.

NAR4 Mon 21-Jan-13 15:27:31

I had one with my last labour, after 18 hours with a back to back baby being induced with the drip. The labour lasted a total of 38.5 hours and my only regret was that I hadn't had the epidural at the beginning when the midwife had offered it.

I didn't have any side effects afterwards except numb legs for several hours whilst it wore off.

After 4 labours, my advise would be, to have whatever pain relief you feel you need at the time.

dannyboyle Mon 21-Jan-13 15:36:45

I've had two, both by choice, no real need apart from me being wimp! Second one last year was very good as it was button controlled by me so I could increase or decrease by will. I was fully in control of everything, no other intervention needed, no tears and was up and walking 15 mins later in both cases for a bath! Epidurals can be great and don't always mean other interventions. I would have another if we have another child!

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 21-Jan-13 15:51:38

I had a horrid birth like yours cupcake. The good news is that giving birth to a non-back to back baby is a piece of piss once you have experienced the back to back first.

1st baby I was denied an epidural despite begging but with 2nd baby I didn't even ask for gas and air. It hurt but I was waiting for it to get similar to the 3cm mark pain level of the first. It never happened. In fact, when I was pushing I panicked because my internal thoughts were 'omg, I'm gonna shred to pieces as I can't be more than 2cm atm'.

No-one knew how dilated I was because not I was absolutely not counting on this mythical epidural they say is available but not guaranteed, and also not having anyone tell me I am/am not in pain based on how many fingers they have shoved up my fanjo.

My birth plan actually said 'No internals, I'm in active labour when I say I am'.

My 3rd birth plan was a bit calmer however, but then I had chosen a homebirth where you absolutely ARE in labour when you want to be.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 21-Jan-13 15:53:02

In fact, my 3rd labour was more 'I'm not in labour until I say I am', which meant midwives arriving just as I started pushing.

Gracefulbirth Mon 21-Jan-13 15:56:00

Sounds like you had a horrendous experience the first time! Back to Back positioning is not fun.

Regarding an epidural ,I think as long as women know exactly what they are getting themselves into, when they make that decision to have an epidural, it's a much more empowering experience than
1. Thinking they wanted one and then having one and being shocked by everything else that was involved.
2. Not wanting to have one, but ending up asking for one out of feeling there was a lack of any other option for the pain/exhaustion.

When it comes to birth, there are a lot of options out there to help you have a normal, positive, experience.
A great website for helping babies in the right position is

You may also benefit from going to antenatal classes again, (perhaps one on one) or even look into using a Doula.

MadameCastafiore Mon 21-Jan-13 16:03:14

I had one with dd. 26 hour controlled labour and was lovely. I got to sleep and had a small tear which was painlessly stitched up.

DS cane in a little under an hour from start to finish and was pretty horrific due to speed making pain relief impossible, other than gas and air! I wanted an epidural and was told to have a nice bath FFS!

2 years after DS I had to be cut again and restitched from front to back and a tape put in to hold up my prolapsed bladder!

So doesn't always follow that it's awful afterwards when you have an epidural.

I'd day don't discount it. Go with the flow and if you feel you need one then ask for one. If you have a long or very painful labour they are great for allowing you to sleep and save your energy for the main pushing bit.

Good luck.

ReallyTired Mon 21-Jan-13 16:20:21

Epidurals are there for a purpose and used appriopiately are fanastic. (Ie. back to back birth, or induction)

There are a balance of risks, (ie. cascade of interevention) and comfort of the mother.

The first birth is always a culture shock and most women find the second birth easier. Its worth looking at other pain control techniques incase you have to wait for the anthestist or you can't have an epidural for any other reason. (Hynotheraphy, tens, water, active birth)

melliebobs Mon 21-Jan-13 16:24:47

I was dead set against it. But was told to stop being a martyr and it was there if I needed it. I had one but it only partially worked. It only numbed one side but still made it a hell of a lot more comfortable. I didn't have a permanent catheter at the time but an in out one that they put in every few hours. Had no problems afterwards (well I did but not cos of the epidural that's for sure)

Locketjuice Mon 21-Jan-13 16:25:13

I had it after being told its that or your looking like a csection,

It was amazing down my right side but didn't touch my left... Weird but would recommend it.. Only thing is not walking after but that only lasted 2/3 hours

gemmapops Mon 21-Jan-13 18:12:07

I had my baby girl 10 days ago and I had an epidural. My only regret was that I didn't have it sooner. I was 8cm when they put it in and I was warned that the pain relief could be patchy as I was so far along. It was patchy and I ended up with the pain localised in my right hip. Baby was back to back and I ended up needing an episiotomy as well so I think the pain could have been far worse with out the epidural. I haven't had any problems with my water works or anything since birth but it could be due to the fact that they just popped one in and out like with Melliebobs.

melliebobs Mon 21-Jan-13 20:18:43

Got to say I experienced both ends of the catheter spectrum. An in out one while I had the epidural (ended up with emcs with general anaesthetic) and had a permanent one for 20 hrs and again no problems.

femmeaufoyer Mon 21-Jan-13 20:29:11

I had my first child in the UK (where you are made to feel a wimp if you have an epidural) with gas and air and pethidine. I was totally high and can't remember most of the labour and birth. Post birth my body felt battered and recovery was slow. I had my 2nd child 6 weeks ago in France (where you are considered mad if you don't have an epidural) I had the epidural and it was a totally different experience. I felt relaxed and in control. I had no intervention, baby was out in 6 pushes. And the recovery has been quick and easy. From my experience I'd say have it! But it does make the process more medicalised so if you're after the 'natural' (bloody painful!) experience then it's probably not ideal.

inadreamworld Tue 22-Jan-13 08:42:30

I was induced on the drip with DD1. 12 hr labour, had epidural after five hours of pain thinking shall I hang on and deal with it.....epidural was great. I didn't have backache and bladder recovered from the catheter though was a bit difficult to wee for a few days after the birth. 2nd degree tear. Was able to push out baby naturally but the pushing stage took an hour.

With DD2 born a few days ago smile I had 4 hour labour, only started to really be in pain the last hour - got to hospital fully dilated saying I want an epidural and they said there is no time the baby is coming out - 3 pushes and she was out. recovery MUCH quicker this time - had 2nd degree tear but no pain from stitches, no urine issues at all. It did really hurt when they stitched up my tear though as they did local anaesthetic injection but it didn't seem to numb me very much and had gas and air while they stitched me up.

So I would say it would depend on the type of labour you are having - if I had had a long labour like yours I would definitely have epidural. Also if you are induced on the drip it is more painful so I would have epidural then too. If I were lucky enough again to have the quick easy labour I had with DD2 then I would manage without epidural as I do feel better in myself and back to normal a lot more quickly this time. I hope this helps. In my case the epidural didn't stop me pushing the baby out naturally but some people say you are more likely to need forceps if you have an epi as you are not able to push as effectively.

Ellie092 Tue 22-Jan-13 09:10:06

I had it with my daughter and to be honest I wish I never I regret having it but I was induced on a Saturday at 38 weeks and still nothing by Wednesday so they took me down to delivery and put me in the drop wow my contractions hit me hard I was having them every 5 to 10 mins and guess what still no dilation they said I may need an Emergancy c section but asked if the doctor could stretch open my cervix too see if this would help that killed then he popped my waters and it all hit me at once no time to build up just bam so I had it but I wish I didn't get induced and I wish I didn't have any drugs but baby's health came first as her heart beat was a little low but she's now a bouncy healthy happy 5 month old smile

Good luck xx

rumpleteazer Tue 22-Jan-13 10:05:41

I remember being very confused about this dilemma in the weeks leading up to the birth of my first (DS). I had done active birthing classes and natal hypnotherapy and I was convinced I could handle the whole thing by using breathing techniques and relaxation. In the end my contractions came so fast and strong that I was vomiting between them (in the 'rest' periods - ha!) and I was 5cm dilated by the time I got to the delivery suite 4 hours after labour had started! I begged for an epidural and anti emetic drugs which were all administered quickly and then I took 8 hours from then to actually give birth. I loved it. I was calm and happy and even dozed during the time I was apparently having massive contractions every 2-3 mins. I couldn't feel when it was time to push but they allowed my baby's head to descend completely along the vaginal canal and then I gave it a lot of welly pushing like I was doing a poo for almost 30 mins and then out he popped! I couldn't feel any pain at all and I didn't have to have any intervention and came away with a small 2nd degree tear. The catheter was totally fine, as was the saline drip - you don't worry about that when you're thinking about meeting your baby. In fact, the catheter was amazing because I didn't have to get up in the night to go to the loo when I was on the post labour ward! It didn't hurt to have it removed at all.

Maybe I was lucky, and I am sure the support of a fantastic midwife who really encouraged me to push hard, and my amazing DH helped a lot. But I couldn't have done it any other way (ie to contemplate no epidural was out of the question for me). I have the utmost respect for people who give birth without one - how do you do it?!?!? It must come down to different pain thresholds. All in all my epidural experience was amazing - no regrets.

Good luck xxx

rumpleteazer Tue 22-Jan-13 10:14:15

Oh, p.s. I spent most of the time relaxing on my side as my cervix fully dilated - no need for gravity apparently, and then I gave birth on my back. All the things they tell you not to do! I didn't really have a choice with the epidural. I wonder if I could have been a bit more upright I could have pushed him out more quickly, but maybe that would have led to more damage with tearing?

cupcake78 Tue 22-Jan-13 10:26:32

Thank you ladies. I think if my next labour is relatively quick ie 4 or 5 hrs I should be ok with just gas and air.

If it drags on forever more and I'm shattered I feel much more confident in asking for an epidural. I'd love to have a labour that I could remember and enjoy. If you can enjoy it wink.

I really think it would help with bonding with baby and the inevitable exhaustion that follows.

For those of you that have your little bundles to cuddle today congratulations and well done.

havingastress Tue 22-Jan-13 10:32:58

Definitely YES!

I wouldn't hesitate to have one again (first baby, induced, back to back, episiotomy, forceps)

And I say this even despite the fact that 11 weeks later I still have loss of bowel control (apparently the epidural has damaged a main nerve, bum still feels a little numb and when I have to go, I have to go!)...However, I was in immense 'kill me now' pain with horrendous contractions. Seriously. If you could have killed me to take the pain away I'd have said yes.

So, personally, knowing how much pain I was in, wouldn't want to go through that again and I'd ask (scream!) for the epidural much much earlier.

YoSaffBridge Thu 24-Jan-13 21:31:54

Having an epidural was the best decision I ever made grin

It was less the pain but after 36 hours of contractions every few minutes, no rest, no food or water, and still being only 4cm, I knew I was too exhausted to keep going for hours.

If you feel you are fine with G&A then that's great, but I don't think anyone should ever feel that having an epidural is coping out or anything silly like that. As you say, it really could help with the exhaustion afterwards and make the experience better.

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