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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.

jellybeans Sat 16-Feb-13 23:43:50

I was refused as there were not enough staff on able to do it. Gutted!

Ushy Sat 16-Feb-13 23:41:44

Perri so sorry to hear what you said "Horrible, hideous experience from start to finish"

Actually, it is just the same of the Mid Staffs issue - incompetent, cruel staff.

Not saying they started off like that, but whatever the NHS machine did to them, they end up behaving no better than sadists.

So sorry and a bit angry on your behalf sad

Perriwinkle Sat 16-Feb-13 13:56:30

I'm sure there's an element of midwives feeling that people are fussing and crying "epidural" too.

The other thing about my situation that I have not yet mentioned is the way I was told I couldn't have an epidural. I was first told by the midwife "looking after me" and I use that term advisedly. At no point did I become abusive or rude towards her, I was simply in despair at the news and very upset and frightened about what was to come. I suppose I came across as a pathetic jibbering wreck really. At no point in the preceding nine months had it ever even remotely crossed my mind that I could be refused an epidural when the time came. No one, medical or non medical, had mentioned that this was something that could possibly happen and I'd never ever heard of it happening to anyone else. This meant I was totally unprepared for what happened to me and I was understandably floored in it. At no point was I offered any or the sort of empathy, care or reassurance that you see depicted on One Born Every Minutewhen the camerasare rolling hmm

Next, a rather stern senior midwife came into the room and told me in a rather patronising way why I was being refused one. She came right up close to my face was calling my name and said "now look at me and listen to me carefully". I was crying and at that point I was offered gas and air as an alternative which they knew was clearly stated on my birth plan as being something I didn't want.

My husband and mother were both with me the whole time and found the whole thing very harrowing too. My mother says she'll never forget me looking at her and saying "mum, please do something to help me" and her feeling of helplessness as a mother.

Horrible, hideous experience from start to finish, albeit with a wonderful outcome. sad

recall Sat 16-Feb-13 13:05:15

I noticed on OBEM this week, the midwife told her patient that she couldn't have an epidural for 6 hours. The poor girl was pleading for one. When the next midwife came on duty, she said she could have one, and organised it promptly. WTF ?????? So that girl was at the mercy of the firsts MW who had simply decided not to give her one . WRONG !angry

Chunderella Sat 16-Feb-13 11:49:41

Recall I suspect you may be right- it's not such a stretch to imagine there might be some midwives, especially those who are very pro NCB and feel there are serious downsides associated with epidurals, to not want their patients to have them. Not out of cruelty, but perhaps a feeling that they're 'saving' women from themselves. And it's true, there are upsides to not having an epidural. I was able to walk, wee, shower, move around and breast feed within six hours of giving birth with no problems, and although I'd still have chosen the epidural, I'm honest enough to admit that it was nice being able to move around easily when looking after my newborn.

But my friend who's an anaesthetist at a different hospital said my case sounded like the midwife looking after me was the one 'blockingg' it, if you like. I waited for three and a half hours but the anaesthetist, when I saw him, said he'd only been called a few minutes earlier. So it can't have been because he was with someone else. And I had a midwife with me throughout the time I was waiting because DD needed continuous foetal monitoring and, shockingly enough, I was finding it rather hard to keep still enough when going from 1 to 9cm in a back to back labour with contractions lasting 90 seconds at a time. So it doesn't sound like it was due to resources necessarily.

CalamityJ Sat 16-Feb-13 09:37:33

recall I remember shaking like an animal that had been shot or something pleading for help, and people plodding about all normal

That's exactly how I was when my local anaesthetic operation didn't work & all I got was a hand to hold (bloody hard poor nurse!) And as many on this thread had their experiences years ago but can still remember, get upset & are angry I'm interested in knowing what I can do to learn from others experiences to ensure history has the minimum chance of being repeated (never saying never)

recall Sat 16-Feb-13 01:30:22

Yes * periwinkle* I can understand that, you have my full empathy regarding this, it is very traumatic, and I can understand your point of view, I don't doubt that in your situation it was due to lack of resources. please don't get upset <<big hug>> I was just thinking about my own experiences, both as a patient and when I was a Nurse, I realise that they aren't necessarily relevant to your situation - sorry.

I just find it unbelievable that women who are rolling around in sheer agony are refused analgesia. I remember shaking like an animal that had been shot or something pleading for help, and people plodding about all normal. Very frightening.

Perriwinkle Sat 16-Feb-13 00:40:48

Well recall I have to take this at face value and believe, as I was told by the Director of Midwifery in her letter to me, that the reason I was refused an epidural was down to lack of resources. Pure and simple.

If I am forced to consider that it was due to lack of empathy and/or compassion I will feel more upset and angry about it than I do already. sad

Perriwinkle Sat 16-Feb-13 00:35:29

Oh, and recall the issue about you being able to have an epidural if you'd needed an emergency c-section doesn't really affect this. The staffing of the obstetric theatre for emergencies takes priority over routine low risk births so of course you would have had one if that circumstance had arisen.

That's exactly what happened to me. All the while I was considered to be in early active labour with a baby who wasn't in distress they were perfectly comfortabale with refusing my request for an epidural, despite it being on my birth plan. Apparently there was not enough staff to monitor me, as other women further on in labour than me aalready had epidurals in place. I was not presenting a problem at that stage in terms of how my labour was progressing.

However, things changed very quickly and an hour or so later, when feotal decelerations were giving so much cause for concern that they couldn't even risk waiting for the results of a blood test to ascertain the baby's oxygen levels, I was whisked straight to theatre and given a spinal block and he was whipped out pronto.

recall Sat 16-Feb-13 00:30:43

You see, I'm not so sure that it is always due to circumstances beyond their control. Maybe its because I have seen through the looking glass, and worked in these environments. Sometimes poor practice has nothing to do with lack of resources, and more to do with lack of empathy and compassion.

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.

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.

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.

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 23:04:26

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 23:02:01

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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."

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

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.

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.

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

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