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Epidurals.....how early on can you have one?

(14 Posts)
OzJo Wed 11-May-05 10:59:29

Dear All,
I'm 33 weeks pregnant, and I'm a bit unclear on this, and seem to be getting different answers to this question.
Is it possible to have an epidural at a relatively early stage? Or do you have to have progressed past a certain point? Can they have the needle put in in advance so it's ready to go, ie, so they don't have to wait till you're in the throws of contractions every 2 minutes?
I have a 2 year old daughter, and her birth was horrendous, eventually ending up with an emergency C section, after a failed attempt at a home birth, an epidural that I'm surprised didn't paralyse me and reduced my partner to tears watching the 5 attempts to get it in...and it was then ineffective for the surgery ( had been great at getting rid of the contraction pain though).
This time home birth isn't an option, but so far the baby is facing the right way, (last time was posterior), this time I know to make damn sure they do a spinal block if I need another C section. I would love a normal delivery, would love to avoid an epidural if I can, but really want to know all my options.

Chuffed Wed 11-May-05 14:40:24

I asked about this to OzJo and they wouldn't put it in early, why I'm not sure as the nurses just top it up.
They do advise the further along you are the less the epidural will impact on progress but then if you wait too long you might not get it before birth.
Probably worth talking in a bit more detail to your hospital on one of your appt's.
Good luck for it all!

kid Wed 11-May-05 14:43:35

I thought you had to be in established labour (at least 3cms dilated) before they would do the epidural. I was told to ask for it as soon as I wanted it as it takes about 40 minutes to set up and work.

edd Thu 12-May-05 22:52:19

Hi OzJo, I was 3/4cms dilated before they gave me my epidural with the birth of my daughter. I was told that given it before this it could slow down the labour. Before I went into labour I thought I could get it asap, but that was not the case. Good Luck to you.

OzJo Fri 13-May-05 06:23:09

Thanks folks, think I'll have to ask at the next Drs appt, see if there's a hospital policy about it, otherwise it's probably pot luck as to who's on duty on the day you go in...plus what else is going on, how busy the anaethatist is etc, etc.

batters Fri 13-May-05 06:33:59

I wasn't in labour at all when I had my epidural.

kid Fri 13-May-05 09:10:18

batters, how did you manage that?

Carla Fri 13-May-05 09:17:05

God, I'm amazed anyone had the wherewithall to know how dilated they were before asking for one. OzJo, I'm sorry I don't know the answer to your question, but like kid I would be amazed if they were willing to pre-empt your pain. Only useful thing I can remember is get in first, before they ask you if it's wearing off.

batters Fri 13-May-05 09:39:39

I had taken a pessary the night before to bring on labour. THe following morning the midwife decided that I should have an epidural. I actually did not really go into labour at all. I certainly didn't dilate. After 24 hours I had a c section. The epidural worked fantastically well for me .

kid Fri 13-May-05 09:43:19

Once my epidural had been done, I helped DH do a crossword and forgot all about the pain! Ended up having a section too, despite fully dilating. DD decided to be nosey and was brow presentation.

beatie Fri 13-May-05 12:25:11

There was a report published recently in The NEw England Medical Journal. It concluded that there was no effect on the length of labour if the epidural was given before you are 4cm dialated - as was previously thought.

It might be worth having a look for this article (I'll have a look for you) and reading the research. Then you can discuss it with your midwife/consultant.

beatie Fri 13-May-05 12:30:27

Article

Some papers have misrepresented the research. The research compared women having epidurals early in labour with women having other drugs (i.e. Pethidine) and concluded the early Epidural did not prolong labour nor increase the likelihood of c-sections. It is not comparing early epidural outcomes to women who have no pain relieving drugs.

OzJo Mon 16-May-05 02:20:48

Thankyou for the article! I have printed it out, and shall pack it into the hospital bag. It's reassuring stuff! I've already had a couple of gloomy midwives predict another C section if I had an epidural. Think I'll email it onto a couple of pregnant mates.

beatie Mon 16-May-05 12:11:51

I hope you manage to get what you want. When is your baby due?

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