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Pethidine - my experience

(7 Posts)
evilstepmom Sun 21-May-06 12:01:38

Hello all

I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl last Thursday (11th). I had a shot of pethidine but was surprised to hear the midwife say that pethidine seemed to have had a lot of bad press lately. While it was not in my birth plan, I hadn't heard any "bad press" as such about it, but thought i would post my experience of having it in case anyone was wondering.
Basically, the only thing I knew about Pethidine really was that it wouldn't take away the pain, but would make it easier to cope with (whatever that meant!). I only really wanted to go with the gas and air as I was worried about anything else having an adverse effect on my baby. If you have pethidine too close to the actual birth then your baby can be sleepy and have difficulties feeding at first.
So, after having irregular (2/3/4 in 10 mins) contractions for about 8 hours or so, I had been "stuck" at 2cm dilated for the last 4 hours and while the pain was getting worse, nothing constructive seemed to be happening. The pain was tolerable, but having a couple of baths and experimenting with the gas and air (lots of fun but v difficult to time correctly!), it was still getting worse with not a lot to show for it.
Midwife suggested Pethidine as a way of "speeding things up" which I didn't know it did. She said it could relax me, therefore encouraging the old cervix to get on with it. I really wasn't sure, for the reasons already stated, but after weighing up pros and cons, thought that nature didn't really seem to be doing its job and that I would go with it, but only as the midwife was positive it would get things moving.
Sure enough, I went from 2cm to ready to go in 3 hours and after an hour of pushing, my beautiful baby girl was born, She was bright and alert, breastfed for 40 minutes straight away and spent the next hour and a half staring round in wonder. Not a sign of sleepiness or dopiness at all. I was so happy.
As to how pethidine makes you feel - no, it doesn't take away the pain, but in between you feel quite out of it; I would liken it to being very drunk! I lost my perception of time which personally I was quite glad about, but I was always aware of what the midwives were saying to me and where my husband was. While you can't get off the bed and move around (trust me, you sort of lose the urge to!)you can change position on the bed quite easily.
When baby popped out - absolute clarity instantly. Like waking up almost. Not really sure overall how much was the pethidine and how much was natural adrenalin etc, as baby was born 4 hours after injection and not sure how long effects last.
But there you go, that was my experience and I really feel neither me nor my baby are/were any the worse for it.
Hope this helps anyone unsure, but remember everyone is different and so your experience may be quite different to mine.
Best of luck to all you expectant mums xxx

joanna4 Sun 21-May-06 12:06:48

It is just like being really drunk isnt it.I had some to get some rest when i had my first child.It didnt speed anything up for me though as I was still another 22 hours after that before he put an appearance in.

cece Sun 21-May-06 12:09:03

Glad you had such a good experience. I had it too for my second after an unplanned natural birth first time - with no plain relief! It was wonderful in myu opinion - at one point I got lost in a dream that I was scuba diving - what a shock to wake up and discover i was pushing out a 11 lb baby!

peachyClair Sun 21-May-06 12:21:50

I had pethidine for all of moine, although nly a half dose with ds3. I thought it was wonderful. DS1 was induced early and I couldn't have an epidural because they lost my bloods (doh), the gas and air didn't work for me but Peth did, it got me through.
With ds2 i was a very gentle but long birth- 44 hours. I had two half doses of peth, several hours apart. With the meds, i can say it was an incredibly beautiful birth- I also had aromatherapy provided by MW- and was by far the best birth I have had. Ds3 was fast, painful and the peth was welcome, although not wuite worn off by end.

Did result in sleepy ds2 and ds3, but have to say worth it. I was fully mobile with all of them in hours (working with ds3, as htey were short staffed on the ward, and a mum needed support (I worked for homestart)- ds3 born at 3 am, I was 'working' with her by 6)

Tatties Sun 21-May-06 13:27:40

Evilstepmom, this sounds similar to my experience. I was induced and was finding the contractions very hard to deal with. I didn't like the idea of pethidine, but my midwife also said to me that it had got a bit of a bad press and that it would only make the baby drowsy if it was given just before birth. As I was only about 1cm, I had it and it was wonderful. It was late at night so it enabled me to get a couple of hours rest. I could still feel the contractions, but they were really dulled and I just didn't care, I was so relaxed. I was 'woken' by very strong contractions a couple of hours later, and on examining me, the midwife found that I was fully dilated. Ds arrived after another few hours of pushing.

Since the birth, I have speculated as to whether the pethidine did the trick for me - helping me to relax and therefore progress in labour - as before having it I was extremely tense and not coping with the pain at all. It certainly enabled my to have a natural delivery (it had totally worn off by then) and avoid having an epidural. However ds was whisked off to the ressuscitaire immediately following the birth as he was not breathing; I know this is common, but I have often wondered whether the pethidine may have had something to do with it. I was pushing for a long time though - so that could have equally been the cause. Ds was fine though, and once they got him breathing, he was very alert. We also had no problems bf.

QE Sun 21-May-06 13:53:48

I was advised about the pros and cons of pethidine during my pregnancies and it was in my birth plans to have it as and when I felt it necessary together with gas and air.

The choice was taken out of my hands with dd as I had to have an epidural due to high BP during labour.

I was given it with ds1 but it made me extremely sick and due to trying to push and having to vomit simultaneously, I tore very badly as I was not in control of pushing at all and he was a big 'un at a fraction under 10lb!

With ds2 I was admitted after having very painful contractions for 5 hours I was only 3cm dilated so everyone thought there were hours yet to go. I had a full dose of pethidine at that point as I couldn't cope with the pain any longer even though the mw thought I should have been coping much better. However, ds2 had other ideas and I went from 3cm to him being born within 45 minutes!! ds2 scored well on his apgars but after only a short suckle he slept almost solidly for 27 hours after.

Obviously with ds3 I was wary but was assured with an anti sick drug, having pethidine again would be fine. So I did but again, I went from 2-3cms to delivery within 1 hour and again, the baby was very drowsy and slept on and off for nearly 24 hours after.

When I was preg with ds4 I was advised to get to the hospital at the first sign of the slightest twinge as ds4 was likely to shoot out at twice the speed of sound if my previous deliveries were anything to go by! It turned out however, that I was induced 2 weeks early so had a much more controlled and relaxed labour and delivery which included pethidine with an anti sick drug as part of the pain relief.

I liked pethidine as a means of pain relief but it does make baby drowsy if given too close to delivery - with mine though no-one could have predicted my labours progressing so fast!

I do wonder however, looking back if it has anything to do with delayed speech??? My 2 ds's who had the pethidine very close to them being born are the ones who have received speech therapy. ds2 for delayed and disordered speech for which he was statemented at school, and ds3 who has selective mutism and delayed/disordered speech.

If I werre to have another baby, I would have it again as I think the benefits it gives as an effective pain relief far outweigh any potential health risks to either mum or baby. Neither of my two speech delayed ds's have any other problems and the speech is now fine with ds2 and ds3 will be witha bit of extra support.

Crikey this has turned into a bit of an essay but that's my experience of pethidine for anyone who stayed awake long enough to read this far!!!

peachyClair Sun 21-May-06 14:17:00

DS2 might be the exception QE, but despite other problems (AS), his speech has just been assessed at 4 years ahead of his age. DS3 has delayed speech mind you, but does seem to be catching up.

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