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How effective is an epidural for pain relief?

(36 Posts)
BelliniButterfly Sat 23-Jul-16 19:55:58

Hi everyone,

I am 25 weeks pregnant with my first child and absolutely terrified of child birth as I realise alot of people are. However, seriously if I could opt for a a cesarean section just now I absolutely would. I do not say this lightly. I have been reading as much as I can about labour and I have just started birthing classses with the Daisy Foundation. What I really want to know however, is just how good is an epidural for pain relief? What will I feel with an epidural and will it make the whole experience manageable?


Flisspaps Sat 23-Jul-16 20:03:29

I had one with DD and felt nothing from the boobs down until they let it wear off to push.

Flisspaps Sat 23-Jul-16 20:04:01

They then topped it right back up as she was a forceps birth.

Gardencentregroupie Sat 23-Jul-16 20:05:57

I had a mobile epidural. I felt the contractions but they weren't at all painful until the drugs wore off, then I could get a top up. I was just aware of them rather than feeling them, it's hard to explain. I was able to stay mobile and was upright for the pushing stage. It was very good.

Gardencentregroupie Sat 23-Jul-16 20:07:13

But Tbh you may well surprise yourself. Look at your options, including an epidural, but maybe also look at natal hypnotherapy and try keeping an open mind. You may well breeze through it.

BowiesJumper Sat 23-Jul-16 20:09:29

I had one I topped up myself with a button. I could move my legs at first but couldn't feel contractions etc. But then I pressed it too many times and had to get my husband to move my legs when I wanted to shift position! Was actually very funny.
I LOVED my epidural. All the pain disappeared.

Peachy27 Sat 23-Jul-16 20:11:13

Depends I reckon. Lots of people swear by them, mine only worked on one side and then I was flat on my back it was far more painful than my previous water birth with no pain relief. So more than likely it'll be great but be prepared it may not work. Also I've had back pain ever since, they are not without risks so be aware of that too. I was induced and freaked about not being able to get in the pool but with hindsight wished I'd coped with the pain and not been left with enduring problems.

Hughpughbarneymagrew Sat 23-Jul-16 20:12:42

If the epidural works then it's complete pain relief. I got to fully dilated and pushed for as long as allowed on just gas and air. Then I needed a forceps delivery so had an epidural at that point. For me, the pain was gone instantly.

However, I have friends who also had an epidural which didn't go so well and didn't provide the same level of relief. I don't know the medical side, but I think it depends how you react to the drugs and how well the anesthetist places the needle.

Personally, I wouldn't make the decision to definitely have one until the day. As others have said, you might be surprised how well you are able to cope without one.

Gowgirl Sat 23-Jul-16 20:14:58

Epidural is,great.......but they will keep you in

SittingAround1 Sat 23-Jul-16 20:32:16

It was fantastic! I held off as long as pos and then had one. I let it wear off a bit ( had a button to press) for the pushing stage so I could feel the contractions but no pain. Keep your options open and you can decide on the day.

pinguina16 Sat 23-Jul-16 20:55:55

If it works it's very effective (too effective?). 1 in 8 does not work though or is only partially effective (and you could have a cut-in-half sensation with right side numb but left side still in pain for example).
If effective you'll probably have a bladder catheter put in place and you'll be on your back (which closes your pelvis instead of opening it up and this may be why there's an increase risk of instruments being needed putting your pelvic floor at increased risk of injury).
Do check if they can offer a mobile epidural as this should allow you to be on your feet enabling your pelvis to open up more.
All the best.

PresidentOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 23-Jul-16 21:10:40

Hello OP
I was you - in fact poss worse than you, as I had been a MNHQer reading all sorts about traumatic birth etc in the months leading up to pregnancy so I was utterly terrified.
In the end as an earlier poster said, I ended up surprising myself. In fact it turns out I"m actually REALLY good at giving birth*, even though I have a rubbish pain threshold and was really worried about it.
*so good I would completely list it as a skill on my CV were it even vaguely transferable grin
I had 2 drug free births for DS1 and DS2 I then got preg with twins for themI had an epidural in prep'n in case a C-section was needed for my second twin who was breech.
The epidural definitely helps (though again as another poster said, it's very hard to describe) but so does keeping upright and reminding yourself that your body was designed to do this and that each contraction is one you never have to have again.
I've not had a C-section but while it's routine surgery, it's still a MAJOR operation and takes time to recover while you are getting your whole head/body round being a new mum
Very very best of luck to you whatever you decide.

HairySubject Sat 23-Jul-16 21:15:35

I have had neither an epidural or a C section but a woman I work with was literally terrified of giving birth and successfully requested a planned c section on that basis

FruitCider Sat 23-Jul-16 21:20:18

I had an epidural. It numbed me from my boobs to my toes.... Apart from in my left bum cheek and my perineum! Yes I felt the baby come out. Yes it hurt. But I'm betting the rest of my labour was pretty pain free in comparison to going without an epidural!

Camembertie Sat 23-Jul-16 21:21:45

I had exactly the same as Peachy and it not worked on one side so worst of all words, stuck on bed on back with is my worst position position to labour in in excruciating pain. Also stalled labour so was fully dilated for 6 hours before third stage.

For next two stuck with being mobile and gas and air and infinitely better, as was mobile and in control.

sycamore54321 Sat 23-Jul-16 21:26:25

Mine was wonderful, rapidly got to zero pain. Didn't even feel it being inserted. I didn't feel at all numb as in tingling but just complete pain free as if it were a normal day! When my baby was pushed very far down and was just about to be born, I could feel the weight of his head on me but zero pain, more as if I were seated on a bowling ball or something!

Catheter didn't bother me in the slightest. In my antenatal class, the midwife said one big side effect was you may not be permitted to get up and walk for an hour or two after the birth. In all genuineness, I asked her what on earth I would be doing otherwise, sitting or lying with my newborn was just fine by me immediately after the birth.

There is an excellent blog by an anesthesiologist called The Adequate Mother if you search for it, she explains lots of elements of epidural and their effectiveness.

In my experience no other form of pain relief comes anywhere close to the effectiveness of an epidural. I feel terrified when I read of Beitish hospitals delaying and denying women access to them. You are right to explore all on your options now, please don't feel pressured by the dominant voice of natural birth that you will find all over the Internet. For my next birth, I will be asking for an epidural at the earliest possible opportunity. Even if this time the pain isn't as bad as first time, I realize I have zero desire to experience any pain at all if it can be avoided.

HedgehogHedgehog Sat 23-Jul-16 21:29:35

Mine was really really great. It was the only thing that worked for me as the diomorphine made me extremely sick until i had to be put on a drip and the gas and air did nothing for the pain but made me hallucinate!
I was in labour for three days and had the epidural in for two and i dont think i would have been able to do it without it, it was a godsend.
When it was first put in (which was much easier than id been warned i didnt even notice it go in my back) i could still move my legs but had absolutely no pain.
After about a day though i had a few top ups of it and i lost the movement in my legs which i didnt like but i think this was just due to how long i had it in for. One of my legs swelled up as well and that hurt like pins and needles but i still couldnt feel the contractions.
Right at the end though i was able to feel enough to push the baby out naturally but it wasnt painful it was just that i could very faintly feel what was going on etc. That was great because they didnt have to use the forceps or anything.
It was very quick recovery considering i had had it in for so long. I was walking within a few hours of giving birth. My legs felt wierd for about a day, like my knees would buckle, however it was fine the next day.
If i ever do it again i will certainly be having the epidural again if i can and not touching any of the other bollocks pain relief options!

sycamore54321 Sat 23-Jul-16 21:34:45

I should also say my understanding is that maternal request section is and should be available on the NHS according to NICE guidelines. If this is your preference, go talk to your doctor about it. Best wishes.

sycamore54321 Sat 23-Jul-16 21:36:31

hedgehog do you mind if I ask why you were in labour for that long? Three days seems way over the normal range. How did your medical team explain the situation to you?

Feel free to ignore if I am being too nosy.

MelanieWiggles Sat 23-Jul-16 21:37:20

Awesome. No other pain relief like it. On DS1 I went from being in excruciating pain (and feeling very sick and out of control on gas and air) to laughing and joking with DH while reading magazines. I could feel pressure on the contractions but no pain. As it happened I was extremely glad I had the epidural as he got very distressed (not epidural-related) and ended up being an emergency section - it meant they could get him out without having to give me a general anaesthetic.

Had epidurals on DS2 and DS3 (both VBACs). Absolute bliss.

As you can tell I am a bit evangelical about them grin

LadySpratt Sat 23-Jul-16 21:51:22

Hi Bellini, I asked for an epidural as I was on syntocinon, but as the anaesthetist was busy I went through the various options starting with the simplest. The midwife was horrid insisting I just had to get on with it (I wanted to invite her to swap places with me, but thought the better of it). My experience of the whole lot is this:
1. gas an air made me vomit with each exhalation all over DH shock
2. pethidine was an out of body experience and going to wear off eventually
3. when the anaesthetist arrived (aka God) he got it in first time and I was pain free, until of course the next midwife disconnected the bloody tubing and Woah! contractions a plenty!

Epidurals aren't totally risk free (nothing is), but blimey I'd have it again in a heartbeat if I was ever faced again with levels of pain like that, but remember I was on synto.

Best of luck! flowers

LadySpratt Sat 23-Jul-16 21:52:21

Oh yes, it also meant that I was ready for my emergency C-section too.....

HedgehogHedgehog Sat 23-Jul-16 21:59:50

sycamore54321 Im not sure really it was quite an awful time i was very out of it. I was induced and it was just very slow from the outset even though it started as soon as they put the pessary thing in. I was at 5cms for ages and ages. I almost had to have an emergency section but they were already doing one and i had to wait or something but whilst i was waiting i dilated more and then they thought i would be able to deliver which i did.
In the middle though i was losing the plot i was convinced i wasnt going to be able to do it because i was so exhausted. My poor midwife lol i was just screaming at her 'IM GOING TO DIE IM DYING' (not from pain just from exhaustion) and she was starting to look very worried. As soon as i heard i was fully dilated though i got a second wind and i was happy as larry that the end was in sight.

Yika Sat 23-Jul-16 22:01:13

My epidural was absolutely brilliant, had it as soon as I felt I couldn't stand the pain (they wanted me to hold out a bit longer as I wasn't very dilated I think). Immediate cessation of all pain. Went off to sleep for the rest of labour; the midwife woke me up periodically to check what was going on. Then they woke me up when it was time to push. I could feel the pressure of contractions but no pain at all. I could top it up myself when I wanted. Wore off immediately, only side effect was itching in the legs for a while. I live abroad. In my country almost everyone has an epidural, it's totally normal. I went to a talk on epidurals at my hospital when I was pregnant and was very reassured by the explanations. I totally recommend having an epidural - made giving birth enjoyable.

HedgehogHedgehog Sat 23-Jul-16 22:02:45

Sorry sycamore contradicted myself there... what i meant was it started very fast, the contractions started right away but then i was stuck at 5cm and it slowed right down x

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