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OBEM - why are they so anti-epidural?

(151 Posts)
babyblabber Wed 20-Mar-13 21:28:06

Just watching OBEM and I've been wondering every time I watch it, why are the midwives so anti epidurals? Is it the same all over England? There was another episode recently where a girl was practically begging for one and they talked her out of it (at 3cm) & I just don't know why. I know there are risks but they are minimal and thousands of women give birth every day with epidurals but watching that show would make you think they're a last resort.

I'm just curious really. I'm from Ireland where it's more normal for first time mums to have an epidural than not and it's almost presumed you will. Having had two kids I am a big fan of epidurals and secretly think giving birth without one is a bit mental!

(ps don't want to start a big debate, just wondering!)

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 20-Mar-13 21:31:46

I think it's because there is more chance of intervention when a woman is not mobile and there is very much a feeling of see if you can manage without.

An epidural was my worst fear as I'm needle phobic!

RandomMess Wed 20-Mar-13 21:32:27

epidurals often slow labour down

saintmerryweather Wed 20-Mar-13 21:33:26

I noticed the midwifes catsbumface too, wondered why it was a problem

DrGoogleWillSeeYouNow Wed 20-Mar-13 21:36:26

An epidural brought my labour to a standstill.

However at the point that I demanded asked for one, I was in so much pain that if they'd have handed me a gun I would happily have shot myself.

Mintyy Wed 20-Mar-13 21:37:18

I haven't watched OBEM, but when I was 38 weeks pregnant with my first dc I was at a dinner party with an obs/gyn from Portugal who was really surprised to hear that epidurals are "opt-in" in the UK. In Portugal it is assumed that everyone will have an epidural (or at least this was the case in 2001) unless they specifically request not.

Fairylea Wed 20-Mar-13 21:39:57

Cost. Time. Availability of anaesthetic team. Medieval midwives.

I waited a whole day to get an epidural with dd.

I decided to have an elective c section with ds so at least I was guaranteed pain relief. I got one on the nhs on birth trauma grounds.

It makes me so mad they try and talk women out of pain relief.

Having said that I had a major problem during my section and had three anaesthetists and a head consultant with me. If a woman wanted an epidural during that time she would have had a very very long wait.

expatinscotland Wed 20-Mar-13 21:43:16

I think cost is a major reason. And staff which is part of costs.

babyblabber Wed 20-Mar-13 21:44:32

Yeah I know it can slow things down but that wouldn't bother me (would rather a few more hours with the pain relief!)

And as for intervention, the few who do get it on OBEM seem to give birth in varying positions do presumably they get light epidurals/ let it wear off which would reduce intervention. I do feel mad on behalf of the wOmen who are asking for one & bring offered a bath instead!!!

Thurlow Wed 20-Mar-13 21:46:05

DrGoogle, me too, me too.

I don't get it either. Its one thing to point out that it could slow labour and there are risks involved in the epidural itself, but I really don't get why they try to talk women out of it. Your body, your pain, your choice.

The single best moment of my life, after 36 hours of contractions, was the moment the anesthetist walked in to my room grin

Personally I get very angry that sometimes to push/pressure to have a pain relief free birth comes from the medical profession itself. I don't think it helps. Just be open about any potential side-effects or risks that come with every form of pain relief, and then let the actual person in pain make the decisions.

ghosteditor Wed 20-Mar-13 21:46:52

Cascade of intervention - there's more chance of other intervention being required - they're talking about it now!

I needed to be able to move around and I didn't want monitoring, and I wanted a water birth (which didn't happen for other reasons). I was lucky and had a fast and fairly easy birth where the contractions were compulsive and forceful but not painful per se - so I turned down all forms of pain relief and was glad of it.

babyblabber Wed 20-Mar-13 21:51:23

Yeah but I'm talking about women who do want an epidural and from what I can see on the show, the midwives try everything to put them off. Like it's a bad thing. I think it's an amazing invention!

The midwife said to one woman earlier, oh you could do it without an epidural and she was almost disappointed when the woman made it clear she wanted one. It just makes no sense to me.

Cavort Wed 20-Mar-13 21:52:04

I am pregnant and am currently attending NHS ante-natal classes.

The MW who is taking our classes says it is now NHS policy to try to encourage women to try to have a birth which is as natural as possible and to fully understand their options and possible consequences so they can make a fully informed decision.

The MW's should support whatever they decide though and not pull a face like they've just sucked piss off a nettle like that one did on OBEM.

babyblabber Wed 20-Mar-13 22:10:08

See I don't even agree with their being a policy to encourage as natural birth as possible. I think before labour women are informed of pain relief options, risks etc and once they come in the midwives should just ask what they want and give it to them. By all means support them if they want a natural birth but butt out of the decision.

Peppermintcrumb Wed 20-Mar-13 22:27:18

I was with my sister when she had her DD. My sister was struggling and in so much pain, we both begged the midwife for an epidural. The midwife just smirked and said my sister could manage without and would "feel like a real woman" if she gave birth without one. My sister scream and shouted and made a huge fuss but the midwife just ignored us and refused to help.

My poor sister suffered with severe PND and I'm sure it had everything to due with the traumatic birth. I can't watch OBEM, the way some of the midwives treat the women is just too upsetting.

TheBookofRuth Wed 20-Mar-13 22:35:36

Oddly enough the consultant I saw at the hospital pretty much insisted I had an epidural. I had been left on the ward all night and I have a recollection of the doctor leaning over me and saying "why is this woman still here, she's clearly in distress. Get her into a delivery room and get her an epidural NOW". Despite this even as I was being taken to the delivery room there were at least 3 midwives flapping around me all insisting that I shouldn't have one!

Artichook Wed 20-Mar-13 22:36:45

I was appalled by all tonight's midwives comments about the epidural. One said "it's a shame, without it she'd have given birth quicker and had a six hour discharge." So bloody what? I'd prefer a slow pain free labour to a fast and furious few hours if agony before being thrown out if my bed with hours.

I've had two epidurals and they saved my sanity. I have huge babies and needed stitching both times, how dare anyone judge me for not wanting to feel my vagina rip apart and then be slowly patched back together. I am seriously furious that women who choose to work as midwives would judge a woman for their pain relief choices.

Peppermintcrumb Wed 20-Mar-13 22:39:54

I hope you got your epidural Ruth - what is their problem with them?

Iwillorderthefood Wed 20-Mar-13 22:43:55

Shame for who though? A six hour discharge not ideal for everyone, but ideal for a hospital wanting to make space for the next patient. I was surprised at these comments too.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 20-Mar-13 22:48:15

Actually I'm more surprised it is assumed you need one in Ireland. I didn't need it my first time, never asked for it. I am definitely not mental either.

TheBookofRuth Wed 20-Mar-13 22:50:15

Oh yes, I got it, and it was wonderful! The relief when the pain stopped was immense.

I do feel rather ashamed at my reaction to the nice lady who came in to offer us a coffee whilst I was waiting for the anaesthetist - "I don't want a fucking coffee, I want a fucking epidural!!!!"

emsyj Wed 20-Mar-13 22:54:56

I don't think it's 'mental' hmm to give birth without an epidural - you couldn't pay me enough to have a needle in my back, the idea gives me the heebie jeebies and I was actually quite relieved when I had to have GA for my c-section with DD1 rather than a spinal or epidural - I had DD2 at home with gas & air and found it very manageable.

I do however think that if a woman wants an epidural and asks for one, she should get one and should not be left for hours in agony or treated like a child who is unable to make a (perfectly valid) choice for that type of pain relief. My birth plan both times clearly stated that I wanted to be offered an epidural if I had to be induced.

I had lunch with a friend who is an anaesthetist last week and interestingly, she said she didn't fancy the idea of an epidural as the risk of permanent nerve damage puts her off.

emsibub Wed 20-Mar-13 22:58:59

Well said artichook

duchesse Wed 20-Mar-13 23:07:04

Nobody, but nobody, short of a life-threatening situation, is coming that near my spinal cord with a fucking big needle; oh, and cascade of intervention, slowing down labour, lack of mobility etc etc... I'm with the midwives on this.

larlemucker Wed 20-Mar-13 23:12:05

I had a 40 hour labour, had very slow progression. At one point when I asked for pain relief the midwife said I couldn't have any but to get in the bath, where I screamed in agony for an hour. When they realised I wasn't progressing and in fact that my contractions had slowed down after they examined me I was offered an epidural and hormone drip. This was 30 hours into labour.
Before the intervention I did 1cm in 4 hours, in the 4 hours after the intervention I got to 10cm and the epidural was still working (although at one point it only worked down one side so I had contractions down my left side and not my right which was very strange!)
In the end I needed forceps as DSs heart rate was too variable. At no point did the midwife try to discourage me from having an epidural. Maybe I was very lucky.

Surely it should be the woman's decision, only she knows if she can cope with the pain

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