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Epidural or no epidural?(45 Posts)
Hello! I'm 7 months pregnant (first timer)... I've always thought I'd aim to have a natural birth with perhaps some gas and air/birthing pool, and have been going on a hypnobirthing course.
However, I've started to think more about epidurals, and why would we not use proper pain relief for such a traumatic event on our body?
You wouldn't have a wisdom tooth removed without anaesthetic, or your appendix removed with just gas and air...
What are the reasons against an epidural? Does anyone have experience of with or without, and what would you do if there was a next time? Are we just conditioned to think that we aren't being the best Mums if we aren't feeling every agonising moment? I know everyone has different pain thresholds.. but why feel pain at all?
I had 2 very different labours. First was overdue and induced, back to back and got well and truly stuck. I had an epidural and a ventouse delivery.
With baby number 2 I was insistent that I wasn't having an epidural as I feel that the not being able to move around wasn't really conducive to a natural labour. I had gas and air only and it didn't actually hurt that much as she was out in 3 pushes.
Listen to your own body, take pain relief one step at a time, try with gas and air and if that isn't enough for you do not be afraid to ask for more pain relief.
This is your body, your baby and your labour. Do what is best for you regardless of what other people's opinions are on what's wrong or right! X
There are definite benefits of an epidural but also risks too. Choosing to have one is an equally valid choice as not having one and you might find that you go into labour with a preference one way and change your mind as it happens. Risks include:
Extended second stage of labour
Increased risk of tears
Low blood pressure for mum leading to
Increased risk of fetal distress, leading to
Increased risk of unplanned caesarian
Epidural doesn’t always work
Continuous monitoring means you will need to lay on your back- positions in which the pelvis is upright is more conducive to getting the baby through the pelvis and laying down means it could be harder to get the baby out. Also no birth pool.
I haven’t had my baby yet and don’t know whether I will ask for one or not... but good to know the risks and benefits either way.
Have a read here evidencebasedbirth.com/epidural-during-labor-pain-management/
You’ll know if you need one, don’t overthink
it. There are different types of pain, I had one birth that was unbearable (back to back, 10lb, induced) and had epidural. Another was normal, 7lb, painful but bearable. You won’t get offered if you don’t need (due to risks), I don’t know anyone who’s asked for it when they did need it and been turned down. See what happens
Take it as it comes, you won’t know till the time what you want/need
Personally for me
I was overdue, so was induced.
I started over ok, but then they upped the dosage and boy did I know it ( I’m not good with pain, used to faint with period pains)
I tried gas & air really didn’t like that
Felt like I was drunk, and the room spinning lol
I wanted to know what I was doing
The pain for me got really bad, so asked for epidural
I don’t know if everyone does, but after it went in I went really cold shivering (just letting you know, Incase u have one and it happens to you)
It was great then, felt absolutely nothing
But what I would say is, it really delayed it
They had to tell me when to push from the readings off the monitor
I torn myself
In the end I had a vontouse delivery
22 hrs later
So no pain but a very long tiring day
Everyone pain threshold is very different
Start with gas & air. And go from there
Congratulations, best wishes
Just go with it. Try not to plan. Labour is different for everyone.
I wanted as natural as possible but ended up in a 5 day induction and nil by mouth (almost 40 hours once dc was born). I physically didn’t have the energy to deal with the pain in the end.
I've had one child with epidural, one without. Very different labours.
I opted to have one because labour was very, very long and I was bloody exhausted. Was great to have it.
Second time round labour was much quicker, pain was very manageable with just breathing.
You don't know how it's going to go, how you'll feel etc. The pain can be a very useful indicator of what's happening. I genuinely didn't find it bad second time, though I had no pain relief at all.
Just expect the unexpected. But try and have faith and stay focused and positive.
Babies coming into the world can throw lots of curveballs.
You might not need an epidural , you might want one but it might be too late, you might end up needing a planned c section, you might give birth unexpectedly at home and on it goes.
I have two bits of advice
- the baby needs to come out one way or the other, and when the time comes you won’t especially care. You will just want them here and for you both to be ok.
- don’t spend weeks writing a birth plan. The body is capable of amazing things but if for whatever reason you require an assisted delivery then you’ve still given birth and you are still a mother.
As an aside, the pain you feel is an intrinsic part of childbirth. The reason that epidurals can often cause assisted deliveries or c sections is that they remove the signals to push that non epidural labours have, in that mostly the labouring woman is told when it is time to push as opposed to her telling the midwife she needs to push.
My fiancé worked as a paramedic for 4 years and the amount of patients he went to who had some form of permanent back damage as a result of an epidural is shocking (this obviously isn't why he went to them but it came up in conversation when he took medical history).
I'm not saying don't have one and I appreciate there are lots of great positives to having one, but be aware of the risks (e.g. can slow down labour).
Good luck with having your baby
I didn’t have an epidural as my hospital didn’t actually offer epidurals as pain relief during birth... so it was gas and air and a shot of pethidine it worked out great!
I reckon just take it as it comes in the moment and see how you feel. My friend had her first birth without, second with and said epidural was 'bliss!' Which I can well imagine. I had two without, which was challenging but luckily ok. If I were to do it again I'd just see at the time how it felt- luckily both my babies were in good positions and I really think this can affect it.
Also a midwife friend said to me that women who had epidurals were much more lucid during the birth which I'm sure is true, I didn't really know what was happening first time around! Good luck with it all ❤️
If you're even just semi tempted make sure they put it in your notes, you're not bound by it but you can have more info and check that it's a possibility at the place you are giving birth etc. I started labour naturally and got almost fully dialated on just gas and air, but things got a bit interesting and I had to have an epidural; it was amazing! Instant relief. Personally I would go in with an open mind and see how it goes, every labour is different, and you get no prizes for a 'natural' birth.
Watch One Born Every minute, 9 times out of 10 an epidural will lead to some sort of intervention, either Vontous, Forceps or C section.
Three babies - two epidurals (long labours) and one without (third birth and I thought I'd give it a whirl!). It was much quicker and hey, we all get through it don't we x
Bloody loved mine. I had the one where I could still walk about so could easily change positions etc. Managed to push out a 10lb 2oz baby with no intervention (some people say you can't feel to push etc but I could) and would have had one again but the second baby had different ideas and came super quick.
I thought i was going to be all water and hypnobiryhing but with a long labour and continuous contractions (they peaked and dipped but never fully went away) I was happy to get one.
I didn't have epidural, didn't want one or anything else because I wanted to do it all naturally. Haven't regretted that at all.
Do remember that most women give birth quite naturally, without difficulty. It's sad that so many are afraid of childbirth. The ones who have an awful time are the exceptions (& I have the greatest sympathy for them). However, the fact that there is pain relief available is a comfort even if you choose not to use it. It's like insurance.
Keep well, be confident and posiitve. I hope all goes smoothly for you and - congratulations!
I’ve had an epiduraI and thought it was bloody brilliant. Very little pain at alI. I did have a forceps delivery but didn’t have any “back damage”.
Have a look and see if your hospital offers Remifentanil- I had it with both my labours instead of an epidural and would highly recommend it.
I wanted pain relief but didn’t like the idea of an epidural as I knew I’d want a shower etc straight after labour. Remifentanil is self administered by the woman through a clicker at the start of each contraction. You’re still fully in control and can feel the pressure of the contractions so you know when to push effectively.
I’m a total wuss but over the course of my labours the effects of the aneasthetic had built up, so by the time it came to pushing I only needed gas and air.
I haven't RTFT but who needs pain? Gimme da drugs, man!
DS1 = hypnobirth - amazing, 4 hours from first contraction to baby
DS2 = epidural and heavily monitored birth - amazing, 7 hours from contractions to baby, slept thru most of it until time to push.
The key to both labors being amazing was the fact that my OBGYN listened to me and I knew that if I wanted pain relief I could have it whenever I wanted.
The fear surrounding childbirth stems so much from the unknown and not knowing if you'll get pain relief or not.
With my hypnobirth, I went in with a "see how it goes" attitude. I was lucky that the pain never escalated from "pain" to "suffering". For me it was manageable.
With DS2, I was having the same pain at 4cm as I was at 8cm with DS1 and I knew I had a while to go. Got the epidural so I could sleep, which I did. Epidural was sited within 45 mins of me requesting it.
There is a massive difference between fear, pain and suffering but I'd hazard a guess that dismissive attitude from healthcare professionals will largely contribute to fear and pain levels increasing.
Knowing you're listened to will go such a long way to a supportive birthing environment regardless of whether you choose pain relief or not.
Epidural...from conception onwards really
I can't offer any scientific argument for or against having one but from my personal experience I wish I had been able to have the option.
I gave birth in a midwife led unit and if I had wanted an epidural I would have had to be transported around 20 minutes away to a different hospital. I didn't really have much of a birth plan, more of a what will be will be sort of approach. Every thing was so quick (first baby aswell) I wouldn't have made it to the further hospital so possibly wouldn't have had time for an epidural anyway (They switched off the taps for the birthing pool as I was being stitched up sort of quick)
I managed perfectly fine with out an epidural. Perhaps look into what options different hospitals near you offer and decide which offers the right 'backup' plan for you?
I have 4 children, 3 pregnancies one was twins. I always said I would have an epi if I felt I needed one.
First Labour after 5 hours walking round I felt it was starting to get painful, asked to be checked, fully dilated, baby born soon after,
Second pregnancy, twins definitely planning epi if not caesarean. Very quick Labour at 35 weeks hardly time to get the doctor in the room never mind an epi.
Third pregnancy definitely decided I was having an epi. Was induced, waters broke, told midwifeI was having epi, she said I didn’t need one, told her I wanted one anyway, baby crowned when anesthesist was saying he could have me set up in 30 seconds.
Sometimes the reason not to have an epi is simply because I have had more pain with an ear infection or a strep throat than in Labour.
Go in, ask for epidural straight away, there'll be no waiting, no change of minds mid way through pain, u'll be pain free and calm all the way through! X
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