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Has anyone been refused an epidural?

(85 Posts)
bedtimeyet Wed 06-Feb-13 12:53:07

I am 38 weeks and hoping to get an epidural this time, so just want to know if most people that want one get one, and how many are told "its too early" or "its too late". Or are persuaded not to have one.

Chunderella Mon 11-Feb-13 20:46:33

That sounds pretty grim. Did you take it further?

Part of the reason I want to complain is to perhaps get a reputation as a trouble maker so I won't be left next time! In my own case I do think it was because of understaffing, but I have a friend who's an anaesthetist in another hospital and she reckons one of the midwives involved was trying to 'spare' me the epidural, so who knows?

Perriwinkle Tue 12-Feb-13 13:22:28

As I said Chunderella, personally I think that writing a letter of complaint is purely a cathartic exercise for people like us who feel aggrieved.

I didn't take my particular complaints any further although the response from the Director of Midwifery I received didn't make me feel any better about my whole sorry experience on what was probably the most momentous day of my life.

The main thing was both my DS and I were fine at the end of it all and on that basis, I doubt they even consider that I've got justifiable grounds to complain in the first place!

Today, when I watch programmes like "One Born Every Minute" and see the midwives giving the women in labour care and attention and showing them humility and respect it makes me realise just how far removed it was from the care I received that day. I do wonder if having the cameras around makes a difference though... hmm

Chunderella Tue 12-Feb-13 20:37:58

Yeah there is a certain mentality of 'you got a healthy baby so what do you have to complain about' isn't there? I think that can be something that's used to diminish women's complaints regardless of what type they are: I should think it comes up as often for the women who are angry they weren't able to do things as naturally as they wanted as for those of us who were left to our own devices when we absolutely didn't want to be. That's not to say I'm not deeply and profoundly grateful for modern obstetric care and the NHS, I absolutely am and would defend the NHS with my last breath.

MiaowTheCat Wed 13-Feb-13 09:23:25

I didn't even get paracetamol or gas and air - by the time they'd ignored my pain relief requests for 3 1/2 hours I was fully dilated and almost ready to push! They did, however, offer me aromatherapy - poor very chirpy, sweet-natured midwife making the offer got somewhat short shrift about where I'd like to insert the ylang-ylang and jojoba at that point (disclaimer: I have no idea what actual oils they were proposing - those two just picked for comedic effect)!

As for complaining - I have a horrifically long story of how hideously I was treated - but I've never done the complaint as I think the pat "we're sorry you feel that way" denials they did anything wrong would be the final slap in the face and send me utterly into a tailspin again. Indeed me asking for pain relief marked me down as a "troublesome patient" in the words of one staff member on the ward - I don't dare get that on my file since I'm due with number 2 soon.

I was most pissed off at not being allowed loose on the gas and air - I'd been looking forward to that part!

This would be why I'm now utterly terrified of going through it all again with number 2 in a far-too-small-number-of-weeks-time.

Chunderella Wed 13-Feb-13 10:47:22

Gas and air was pretty shit in my experience, you missed nothing. I'm really sorry to hear what happened to you though, Miaow. Are you givnig birth at the same place?

MiaowTheCat Wed 13-Feb-13 12:09:45

Same NHS trust (unfortunately) - different hospital, although all bets are off as to where I actually get to go since the maternity units regularly have to close their doors because of being full here... week after I was in they were sending women to the next city down the motorway (about 1 hrs drive), and recently I've heard tales of them sending them even further to one of the hospitals in the news for all the horror stories! If they try sending me there I'm tying my ankles together, shoving a cork in it and telling hubby to just put foot to the floor and drive me up north to near my parents' house!

Ushy Wed 13-Feb-13 13:09:07

I think some of these accounts are soooooo shocking.

The Care Quality Commission has a link where you can complain and they will look at the complaints when they inspect. Apparently it is very effective.

You have to search for the hospital and there is a top tab where you can give your feedback. Unlike hospital complaints, it will be external and direct to the inspecting body.

I don't think things get any better if you put up and shut up so I am definitely going to do a complaint of my own.

Ushy Wed 13-Feb-13 13:10:44

Forgot to say, you have to click on the hospital link - it is the second page which has the feedback tab.

Perriwinkle Wed 13-Feb-13 13:12:32

I'd second the view that gas an air is rubbish. Although I'd clearly stated on my joke of a birth plan that I didn't want to use it, when I was refused the epidural they did offer me it as an alternative and strongly urged me to at least give it a try. Out of sheer desperation I did try it and as far as I'm concerned I might as well have been sucking on thin air for all the relief it offered. Even the midwide said, "I don't think that's going to be any good for you".

I would like to think that I would certainly have drawn the line at diamorphine/pethadine or whatever it is they call it. The mere thought of having that filled me with equal measures of horror and dread!

Thank god they whisked me off for a c-section before things got any worse!!

Chunderella Wed 13-Feb-13 18:02:39

Diamorphine is fucking lovely Perri! I'm just sorry I'd had so much of it during my stalled first stage, so couldn't have any during the action itself.

Thanks for the link Ushy. I submitted my complaint today and will certainly use that if the response isn't satisfactory. My friend is a consultant anaesthetist at a different hospital and has strongly encouraged me to complain, she obviously feels as you do about put up and shut up.

Sounds like a plan Miaow. Hopefully things will be easier for you this time, it's not uncommon for women who had difficult first births to have much quicker and easier labours subsequently.

2wwmadness Wed 13-Feb-13 18:14:36

No I didn't get one. There wasn't enough staff as someone else was havin an emergency csec. All the shouting for one in the world wasn't gunna get me one. But it want that bad without in hiensight. I worked myself up way more about the birth than it was. DS is 9months

MammaCici Thu 14-Feb-13 09:32:19

I gave birth in Sweden and I had "a walking epidural". It is just enough painkiller to take the edge off the contractions. I was still able to walk about just up until baby popped out. I had picked a birth centre that prefer natural birth so it took a while to convince them I wanted it. I still felt all the contractions but they were more manageable. I still felt the baby move down. Staying mobile meant that labour didn't slow down. I'm expecting #2 now and plan to have a similar form of pain relief. The birth was still very tough but once I got the epi it felt more manageable and I was calmer and able to concentrate on the job at hand. My baby was over 9lbs and I had very little tearing. I was able to use the bathroom within 30 mins of birth so I avoided a catheter.
I really thought I could do it without pain relief. I had read lots of books on hypnobirthing etc. and did meditations everyday in preparation. I thought I'd control it. During transition I realised that my mum was right. The pain is unlike anything you can imagine. Some women feel it more than others I guess. I felt it like it was an electric shock, my whole body reeled uncontrollably.
This time around I will go to a regular hospital because I don't want to fight for pain relief when the time comes.

Briseis Fri 15-Feb-13 13:49:35

I was refused one second time round as "too far gone" - this was a load of nonsense, really got the feel that they just thought second time mum, should all go ok, and labour was going fast so may as well not bother. Had an epidural with dd1 and enjoyed the birth. Took me a long time to get over my birth with dd2 as found it very frightening and painful - had no pain relief at all, not even gas and air. Still feel wronged by the hospital and midwife.

StrawberryGateaux Fri 15-Feb-13 13:53:05

I was refused with dc4, apparently i was too far gone (i was about 5cms)!
Ask for one really early on, have it written in your birth plan & state the need of wanting one as soon as you go in

Perriwinkle Fri 15-Feb-13 21:38:53

I did all that StrawberryGateaux and it counted for jack shit in the end. I had to manage with a couple of paracetamol and a crappy TENS machine before I was finally (and thankfully!!) whisked away for my emergency c-section at the end of my hideous 24 hour labour.

At the end of the day it's simple - if they haven't got the staff to monitor you while you've got an epidural in place they won't let you have one, even if there is an anaethetist available to put one in for you.

And if you complain about it, as I did, they'll simply trot out the line "the midwife in charge of the labour ward has the difficult task of balancing the needs of all the women in labour whilst maintaining a safe service."

CalamityJ Fri 15-Feb-13 21:47:25

I've heard many stories of my local hospital delaying epidurals till it's too late. I really don't want someone I don't know making such a big decision for me. Especially as neither of my midwives has given birth...

Perriwinkle Fri 15-Feb-13 22:30:05

CalamityJ those decisions will no doubt be put down to "the midwife in charge of the labour ward balancing the needs of all the women in labour whilst maintaining a safe service."

Unfortunately, when your time comes, if you are giving birth in an NHS hospital you like all the rest of us will be at the complete mercy of those on duty who will be looking after you. Realistically, they will make all the decisions and call all the shots.

Your choices and wishes will only be accommodated if it fits in with the resources they have available to them. If this results in things going not quite as you would have liked them to, well, in a word, tough. They think that as long as you deliver a healthy baby and are OK yourself then you have little to complain about in the grand scheme of things.

Unfortunately for us, what is ultimately the most momentous day in our lives is just another day in the office for the staff on the labour ward and we're just another widget.

If you're giving birth at the Portland Hospital or any other private facility where you are paying handsomely for the service you get however, it will of course, be a totally different story! grin

CalamityJ Fri 15-Feb-13 22:47:17

Periwinkle fair point about resources but if having a difficult/painful birth ends up with PTSD then isn't there a false economy in terms of future resources being used to 'fix' the problems caused by a traumatic birth? Plus the long term implications on the baby's emotional wellbeing.

FrustratedSycamoresRocks Fri 15-Feb-13 22:58:47

I was refused one 2nd time around. After being told it was too late. Although with hindsight I do think they were right, since dc was born about 15minutrs later, so I wouldn't have worked in time anyway. However at the time I wasn't aware of this.

Perriwinkle Fri 15-Feb-13 23:02:01

I totally agree CalamityJ but they don't deal in "what ifs". They just deal with what's in front of them with the resources they have. And to be fair, what else can they do?

The NHS is under resourced and that's just a sad fact.

recall Fri 15-Feb-13 23:04:26

I was told too late with my second, I was in fucking agony and very angry

It was too late because the anaesthetist was busy helping a lady with a retained placenta. I told them to show me where she was, and I'd get the fucking thing out for her ( very rude I know - apologised after blush )

I later met the woman at a Baby group, and she said that she was on the phone to her MIL announcing the birth of her baby, and her MIL asked what the hell that noise was, and it was me screaming apparently. Oh how we laugh now angry

Perriwinkle Fri 15-Feb-13 23:39:54

Great you can laugh about it now recall but your story demonstrates perfectly how the staff on a labour ward will (and must) make decisons and call the shots regarding your labour and delivery depending on what fits in with them rather than what fits in with you!!

recall Fri 15-Feb-13 23:53:27

To a certain extent yes Perriwinkle but it isn't all about the ward, and the Midwives, it is about the patients, and I think that sometimes the resources could be managed differently. I am well aware that there are second anaesthetists on call, and would have been called out if I had needed an emergency C section. I am a Nurse, and I was taught that pain is what the patient says it is....I think it was bad practice not to have given me adequate pain relief because it would have inconvenienced the staff.

recall Sat 16-Feb-13 00:00:39

mammacici i too had epidurals where I could feel all of the contractions and actively push - perfect pain control, I was in heaven and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of those those births.

Perriwinkle Sat 16-Feb-13 00:21:53

I agree recallbut I think that's just the crux of the problem - the lack of resources in the NHS leads directly to bad practice.

I'm sure no nurse or midwife sets out to deliberately cause anyone under their care pain, distress or discomfort but they are ultimately constrained by the scarce resources they are given to juggle.

I was refused an epidural due to lack of resources and I was upset and angry - and still am now almost 13 years later. However, when I think of it in terms of the bigger picture, as a reasonable and rational person, as cross as I was, I realise that it was due to circumstances beyond their control.

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