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Epidural or not

(50 Posts)
nikijm Thu 14-May-15 19:38:41


I'm due my second in June. 9 years after my first. I had a 'natural' normal complication free birth with my son but it was 19 hours I coped badly and was very unwell mentally and physically afterwards. Looking back I suspect some type of PTSD. I'm small and was very young at the time, i also suffered with PND.

I always swore if I did it again I'd have an epidural. All the advice I've been getting at NCT etc say that an epidural is not an easier option yet the people I know who've had one generally seem to think it is. Can anyone offer any experience/ advice? I'm pretty scared :/

EllieQ Thu 14-May-15 19:58:12

I had an epidural when I have birth to my first child a month ago. I couldn't cope with the pain of contractions (just gas and air wasn't enough), so i asked for pethidine as soon as possible and made it clear that I would want an epidural. I had heard horror stories of women being denied one as it was 'too late' and didn't want that to happen.

The main issue with the epidural, as explained in my NCT course, was that you can end up with a more 'medicalised' birth - instruments etc. This is what happened to me - I couldn't push properly/ enough right at the end, so I ended up with forceps after ventouse didn't work. However, I was fine with that possibility and quite frankly the bliss of the pain relief outweighed anything else at the time. I tore and had stitches, but they're healing up fine.

Personally I think it's barbaric that women are expected to go through something so painful without any decent pain relief. There are no other medical procedures where this happens! I wasn't impressed to find out pethidine has a 50% success rate - why aren't more effective drugs with less side-effects being developed?

If you would be ok with the possibility of a more 'medicalised' birth, I would say go for the epidural!

Cassie258 Thu 14-May-15 20:01:42

I've not had an epidural myself (due to being induced and then emcs by spinal tap) but a close friend has had two epidurals. Both were nice births that were relatively pain free.

I think the above pp has it spot on. If you are prepared for the possibility of a more medicalised birth, go for it!

Tequilashotsfor1 Thu 14-May-15 20:02:01

1st labour was four hours and drug free

2nd labour I could have happily thrown myself out of the window. Luckily the midwife suggested an epidural but not in so many words and I got one straight away. It ended up turning in to a EC but those few hours pain free allowed me to get myself together and sleep ! The doctor woke me and dp up saying I have to be rushed in to theatre !

Go with the flow - if you think you need one ask as soon as possible. There is no shame in it. You don't get a medal if you do it with out.

Clobbered Thu 14-May-15 20:03:12

I had an epidural for my third (gas and air for the first two). My second birth was very quick after an extremely prolonged first stage, and it left me very shaken. I waited a long time for the third as a result. As soon as the pains kicked in, I knew I'd have to have an epidural and it was bliss. The rest of the labour and delivery was very easy. I did have some temporary problems with my bladder afterwards (baby was born face-to-pubes) and it's possible this might have been avoided without the epidural, but on balance I'm very glad I had it.

damepeanutbutter Thu 14-May-15 20:05:22

I have 3 DCs, youngest is 12. I had epidurals for the first two because in my antenatal class with DC1 it seemed to be what everyone wanted. I didn't really think about it. I suffered very bad back pain incidences for several years after both first two and didn't connect that it MIGHT be down to the epidural until much later. So when I had 3rd DC I decided that I would go down the pethidine route. However, I managed with a tens machine and gas and air and it was definitely the loveliest of all the three births. I remember every moment of it. It was a joy to feel the contractions, they had their own rhythm,and to be able to push. With the epidural I felt nothing and had to be told when to push, so I was never sure if I was doing it right. 2nd DC needed a ventouse delivery.

If I was doing it again now I would go again for tens, gas and air and then pethadine (if early enough). But everyone is different and every delivery is different. My back is okay now, but I had several years when I couldn't move for a week at a time, a nightmare with young children. Not sure if was the epidural, but it might have been. Good luck. Whatever you decide will be fine.

purpleapple1234 Thu 14-May-15 20:09:09

I had an epidural. Normal birth. Was able to push with no problems. No need for a "medicalised" birth. Although I was able to walk around with mine, so might have been given a weaker version. Go for it! Anyway a medicalised birth surely has to be a lot better than one in agony but 100% natural.

RabbitSaysWoof Thu 14-May-15 20:09:54

I had a planned epidural, they did it at 4cm. I needed emcs in the end but that was because if the pitocin drip (over due induced anyway) not because of the epidural. Like pp above I had a lovely snooze before the section which I very much needed.
I would have another epidural in a heartbeat.

Yika Thu 14-May-15 20:17:30

Very very happy with my epidural. I slept through most of labour. I could still feel the contractions and push fine - but didn't feel any of the associated pain. It also wore off immediately and I was able to get up right away. The only side effect was itching in my legs for a couple of hours afterwards. Thoroughly recommend.

kavv0809 Thu 14-May-15 20:26:39

I've had two epidurals. Dd1 was fine and I was relieved to have the pain stop. All went well in the end, but I nearly had to have forceps and emergency c section as she was distressed.

Dd2 I was determined to get to hospital in time for my epidural as I'd heard second babies came quicker. I was in latent labour for two days in and out of hospital. I finally progressed to 5cm, they got the anaesthetist and he put the epidural in.

Then in the space of five minutes my waters broke everywhere and I needed to push. I was that classic mum going 'Er NO it can't come yet, the epidural isn't working you have to STOP it' and the midwives were [eye roll] 'we can see the head so it's coming if you like it or not'. Delivered baby, delivered placenta, then the epidural kicked in. Damn fast labours angry didn't have any opposition or trouble from the midwives either time about epidurals though, despite what I was expecting.

Rosieliveson Thu 14-May-15 20:26:44

I had an epidural.
After 6 hours of painful contractions I couldn't cope anymore. It was glorious. Took the pain away but I could still tell when I was having a contraction. Placing my hand on my tummy helped. I even had a little nap at one point smile
They turned the epidural off about half an hour before the pushing stage so I could be sure to feel when to push. That was painful and I had an episiotomy which hurt but it was all coming to an end by then so bearable.
At first I felt like it was 'giving in' to take the epidural but the midwife said "you wouldn't go through any other painful procedure with no anaesthetic so if you need it, take it" That clinched it for me!

NickyEds Thu 14-May-15 20:34:21

Most women I know who've had both recommend the epidural. When I had ds I was in early labour for 24 hours and then had to be augmented with the synto drip. DS was back to back and the pain was unbelievable. I didn't get an epidural (despite begging for one) as the mw said as I was only 4cm I "wasn't really in labour yet", he was born 4 hours later. I really wish I'd had one. I had nightmares about it for a year afterwards. I'm 31 weeks pregnant now and will ask for an epidural early, especially if I need the drip. I think if you need or want one then you do and should get one.

Bolshybookworm Thu 14-May-15 20:36:58

I have had two (first time because 30 hours in my contractions slowed down and I needed induction, second time because they were threatening induction). Had a "normal" birth with both, second degree tear first time round, just minor 1st degree tears second time round (no stitches!). I loved them. My labours have been long (40 and 12 hours) and the epidural has come at a point when I cannot bear the pain anymore and am starting to get panicky about how much longer it will go on for (which, in turn, affects my contractions). The sheer bliss when that pain is taken away is amazing. Like pps mentioned, it also allows you to get some sleep! I'm pretty certain the second epidural saved me from the drip as once I had relaxed my contractions ramped up.

A good midwife will keep it topped up enough so that you're painfree but you can still feel when you have a contraction eg I could feel them right at the top of my tummy so I knew when to push.

YouMakeMyHeartSmile Thu 14-May-15 20:37:01

I'm debating one for my second too. My first labour was 48 hours of contractions every 3 mins, so obviously no sleep for all that time. Took 40 hours to get to 4cms dilated. I used my TENS and then gas and air which did very little.
The pain was horrific, and it turned out DD was back to back. Due my second in 7 weeks and can't decide whether to go 'natural' as I've done it before or go straight for an epidural. The main thing putting me off is that we had a 3 hour discharge with DD which was lovely, and they have a minimum 12 hour discharge policy after an epidural. I want to avoid the postnatal ward again if at all possible!

SnozzberryPie Thu 14-May-15 20:41:07

I didn't have one as I didn't really need one, but then I needed forceps anyway. I reckon if the pain gets unbearable then have it, as not having an epidural is no guarantee of a lovely natural birth.

nikijm Thu 14-May-15 20:42:46

Thank you so much for replies. It's really difficult isn't it? I swore I'd never have any more after my first. It's really helpful to hear other peoples experiences.

thank you I feel less alone in wimpiness too!!

RolyPolierThanThou Thu 14-May-15 20:44:43

Its good to hear lots of people have had positive experiences with an epidural. The nct to s very anti.

My advice is to wait and see.
I had an epI for my first labour because it was oain beyond imagining (baby was obviously not in a good place trying to fit through ky pelvis. Crushing nerves etc). I was in labour fir three days and had the epi for the final 26 hours. It only took partially so was still quite painful with each contraction. I ended up forceps but never mind.

Second births are almost always MUCH easier but I had an epi oprion.tion.s an option. Turned out I didn't need it. not even close. At no point during my second labour did i ever reach rhe point where I really bloody needed it. I only had gas and air for the last 30 mins of the first stage.

This is why never believe a word of ut when a woman tries to tell you you dont or do, will or wont, should or shouldn't need an epidural or that doing it pain relief relief free makes a woman some sort of super woman. Every labour is differeny and can be MASSIVELY differently painful. You find out the day and decide then.
Good luck

Bolshybookworm Thu 14-May-15 20:44:49

My first birth sounds very much like yours nickyeds (long, back to back labour). However, a friend had pre-warned me about the drip so I refused to have it without an epidural. THATS the sort of thing they need to tell you at NCT, rather than all epidurals are evil angry.

Should also add that I never felt the urge to push as I was too numb, but was able to push still, if that makes sense (only took 2 pushes second time round grin).

RolyPolierThanThou Thu 14-May-15 20:54:18

oh and im expecting number three and would LOVE to have a labour like my second (7 hours total, 45 minutes in the birthing pool, a tiny bit of gas and air for the last few ctx and then two satisfying pushes to a baby. No intervention. That birth was bloody awesome and id do it again tomorrow)

But if I get the kind that fo pain I had with ds1 I would not hesitate to ask for an epidural.

You may be surprised how different your next labour could be.

Momagain1 Thu 14-May-15 21:03:29

It's an option. A choice to be made at the time, not in advance.

I had one with my first. In the US, no midwife, just the occaisional nurse or doctor, popping in to check dilation, a crap birth partner and then double labor (the resting phase, a normal labor pain, and then another just as i took my breath and thought it was time to relax). it was distressing and exhausting. If a midwife had been an option back in that time and place, maybe other options would have been useful. Even gas & air might have been helpful, but that was not offered in the US (and still isnt, as far as I know). When the anesthesiologist offered the epidural about 8 hours in hospital and 2 in that version of labor, I was on it. After that, I did as I was told, because I felt nothing. Pushed on demand. Forceps were used. No long term harm to either of us.

For the second, just as I reached the point of calling for drugs, they said , 'too late! Push!' My third was in the UK. Gas & Air, and a helpful partner and an overworked but helpful when she was there midwife made it easy.

rallytog1 Thu 14-May-15 22:25:52

Totally recommend an epidural. Get a 'walking' one if you can, as you'll still feel everything but it just won't hurt.

There is increased incidence of interventions, but there's no evidence showing whether the epidural causes the interventions, or whether the pain that necessitates some epidurals is a sign that the labour is heading for complications that would need interventions anyway.

Tequilashotsfor1 Thu 14-May-15 22:58:54

rally that's a real good point.

nicoleshitzinger Fri 15-May-15 17:00:26

"but there's no evidence showing whether the epidural causes the interventions"

Except that low risk women who choose to labour in environments where epidurals require transfer (ie, home birth, birth centre - freestanding or alongside) appear to have half the rate of emergency c/s of similar low risk women who have chosen to labour in environments where epidurals are available on request, and where epidural rates are higher.

Personally I've never met a midwife who doesn't feel that epidurals sometimes actively cause complications, because of the way they contribute to higher rates of supine birth and higher likelihood of fetal distress (a known side effect of epidurals).

Would also point out that when you look at the studies into epidural outcomes that are included in the Cochrane review, 9 tenths compare women who've had an epidural with women who've had pethidine, who are also likely to be supine and are more likely to require additional monitoring. So they're not comparing an unmedicated birth to a birth with an epidural. Add to that a high degree of cross-over from the non-epidural to the epidural arm of almost every trial, plus the fact that many of the trials are conducted in international birth settings where harmful practices (like supine birth and routine continuous monitoring of low risk mothers who haven't got an epidural) militate against a mother having a straightfoward birth and well, it's pretty pointless really.

2014MrsH Fri 15-May-15 22:30:32

You could see if your hospital gives mobile epidurals. I had one with my son and could administer it when I felt a contraction coming on. Also I was able to get up and walk around straight after he was born.
The epidural I found amazing and would never give birth again without one!

Tequilashotsfor1 Fri 15-May-15 22:46:29

Yep and when your in pain, real bad pain . Just ask for it

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