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why are people so against epidurals

(415 Posts)
porcamiseria Sun 11-Apr-10 09:36:29

I am just curious, as the general vibe here (MN) and with the NCT and some midwifes is they are a bad thing.

I had one as was induced and literally could not cope with pain. I wont go into the whole story but its the usual ventouse, stitches etc. But baby was healthy and fine

My point is for me the epi was a godsend and the intense pains were not bearable.

If it happens again, I will have an epi if I can't cope. am due August, so its pertinent for me

It upsets me rather this attitude that they are to be avoided, as if you DO have one some people might feel like a failure?

bronze Sun 11-Apr-10 09:39:28

I think its because that they are more likely to cause the need for intervention than no epidural.

I have never had anyone judge me on any of my birth decisions. Just don't tell anyone then they can't make you feel any which way

Bonsoir Sun 11-Apr-10 09:39:54

If you are induced, there are more arguments for an epidural than in a 100% natural birth, as inductions are known to be more painful on average than natural births.

People are against epidurals because of the greater risks to the mother and baby from the longer childbirth that epidurals can result in. You are more likely to need an episiotomy and a forceps or ventouse delivery if you have an epidural, none of which are risk-free.

EggyAllenPoe Sun 11-Apr-10 09:45:43

the reasons that they are to be avoided is that they increase various risks, and prolong labour. although in the case of inductions our local hospital pamphlet states one should be available, as they are known to increase the pain burden - and indeed forceps & ventouse deliveries are generally acknowlegded to be greatly more painful.

basically there is clinical evidence of adverse consequences, it is not just a prejudice.

YouCantTeuchThis Sun 11-Apr-10 09:53:29

Because you don't get awarded a shiny medal with your tea and toast... hmm

There are reasons why we have the pain relief and interventions available to us - as long as you are aware of the possible risks then no-one should judge you on your birth needs/choices.

Romanarama Sun 11-Apr-10 09:54:50

I had epidurals with all 3 births, specifically to speed things up. It worked every time.

Bear in mind that many prejudices (when they are prejudices) about childbirth are national issues. There are countries where nobody has epis, and countries where everybody does. I had one baby in Switzerland, and iirc the statistics were over 90% of vaginal deliveries were with epidural. The anaesthetist just comes in to see you when you arrive at hospital. He warned me to tell the nurse in good time when I wanted the epidural as it could take up to 10 minutes(!) for him to be called back to my room.

I've also never been judged about my births. I have a feeling (having lived and had babies in lots of different countries) that it's a rather British thing. Other people have other issues they get all worked up about.

EggyAllenPoe Sun 11-Apr-10 09:58:56

Because you don't get awarded a shiny medal with your tea and toast

nor do you if you spend 6 weeks recovering from a c-section. and epidurals increase the risk of c-sections....

what medical practitioners advise should be based on clinical evidence, surely? that was the question in the OP.

23balloons Sun 11-Apr-10 10:07:04

I had 2 epidurals both baby 1 was born within a few hours and didn't need a top up or intervention. I could feel to push no problem.

With baby 2 I also insited on epidural, baby born just over an hour later. Again no problems at all. I was able to get up and walk without any probs and again could feel to push.

So IME epidurals were a life saver as I am not good with pain. They helped me relax and I would say don't worry about others opinion of you for having one. Its your body, your baby & your choice.

EveWasFramed Sun 11-Apr-10 10:16:44

I had a terrible epi with my first didn't take, had to get another, it still didn't take away my pain completely AND it took ages for baby to be born. Both my babies were back to back babies, and though painful and long, I opted for drug free with DC2, and it was so much better in comparison, and I DO NOT have a high threshold for pain.

Personal opinion is obviously a large part of that judgement, but the evidence about epi births needing more intervention, slowing down labour, increase in c-sections is pretty compelling.

BlueberryPancake Sun 11-Apr-10 10:23:06

I don't judge women who have had epidural, and when I hear that someone has given birth %100 natural no pain relief at all I have mix feelings of toe curling sympathy pain, admiration, jealousy, horror, and wonder why! One of my friends just gave birth to twins without an epi, and I still wonder why she did it!! but at the same time I admire her a lot.

I think that the negative feeling about epi is that statistically, you are more likely to have interventions. Many MW don't like them because they know that it often snowballs more medical interventions. Altough for me, the MWs that were present at the birth of my second kept on saying 'isn't it great that she's not in pain' and we had nice chats! They kept on asking me if I needed top ups.

When it comes down to many things in life, I remind myself that 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent'.

Ineedsomesleep Sun 11-Apr-10 10:23:40

"with the NCT and some midwifes is they are a bad thing"

Totally disagree sorry. I've volunteered with the NCT for 5 years and have never heard of anyone judging or being judged regarding epidurals.

The NCT provide good quality, evidence based, information and for many women this can be the only source of reliable information to them.

They also believe in informed choice, so very much encourage women to find out all about the different types of pain relief before they give birth and then make up their own mind.

Its your body, your baby and your choice.

BlueberryPancake Sun 11-Apr-10 10:27:13

I've had two epis by the way, the first one was after an induction, and I ended up with a very high temperature and I was out of control with the pain. It was a great relief to have epi, but I ended up with a C sec after failed attempt at ventouse. With second baby, I had an epi and full labour but again couldn't push the baby out. I pushed for two hours, he wasn't descending one bit. I could feel the contractions very well. I ended up with C sec anyway, but I don't mind and have no negative feelings about second birth. I do for the first one but all bad memories are linked to the pain that I felt. I thought I was dying and had nightmares for ages about it. The epi was an enourmous relief.

TuttiFrutti Sun 11-Apr-10 10:34:50

EggyAllenPoe, there is no medical evidence that epidurals increase the risk of cs (although they do increase risks of ventouse and forceps deliveries). This was shown in a recent NICE document about cs in general.

I think epidurals are fantastic, one of the greatest scientific inventions ever. If you can manage without, then fine, but you don't have to struggle through hours of screaming in agony.

teafortwo Sun 11-Apr-10 10:39:24

The hospital I gave birth in actively encouraged them! At a pre lecture explaining their methods they went through all other techniques and laughed rather smuggly and heartily at them! They use on something close to 90% of Mothers what I think is known as the mini epidural as the first (and usually only) pain relief.

From my experience - I really cannot recommend it enough! I had a very simple and quick labour. I could feel everything but was not in pain and really felt 'myself' throughout (ie not drunk on drugs or screaming with pain which both were very very big big fears of mine).

My more Earthy friends are horrified by my birth experience but I was very pleased with it and think back to the birth of my dd rather fondly thanks to the lovely drs, midwives, a rather impressive bed specifically designed to give birth in and of course that epidural!

HeatherTrott Sun 11-Apr-10 10:52:38

As others have said, epidural tend to lead to the need for intervention.

I has an epi with DS1...I needed it, and would have paid a lot of money for the relief it gave me.

I didn't have one with my other babies, because I could cope without, and yes afterwards I was relieved I hadn't had one, as I think the birth over all was nicer with out. But then, I'm a wannabe earth mother.

If you need one, you need one. Doesn't mean you are any less tough, or heroic. I can't imagine what would have happened if I hadn't had one with DS1...the epidural was truly a beautiful experience.

porcamiseria Sun 11-Apr-10 10:53:02


you did not go to my ante natal classes!!

NCT was very po faced and did not really want to even discuss them, chanmged subject and went on about @cascade of intervetion@, but would not have a proper dialogue

Midwife at hospital ante natal blatantly said they slowed down labout and she hoped the aneasthetist would be off when I asked for one (NICE!!!!)

hardly pro epidural!!!!

I agree with Tutti, why on earth should I have to be in agony for hours if I dont want to?

I am all for a balanced view, but the pervasive "drug free is best for mother and baby" really really fucks me off

Ashandsash Sun 11-Apr-10 10:56:08

I think this is a very british thing. I am french and in France they assume you're going to want an epidural because why on earth would you suffer for no reason? Obviously if you decide not to, that's absolutely fine and your choice. I do find that there are a lot of expectations of women in the UK compared to other european countries - none of my French friends have asked me how I'm planning to give birth but my British ones all have and I have been given advice and comments about wanting an epidural. Surely it is my business and no one else's??
Anyway, my personal experience was to attend the birth of my little sister when I was 17. My mum was induced and had an epidural more or less at the same time. She had lots of top ups and did not feel a thing not even the pushing stage. She did have an episiotomy (but she had had 2 in the past) but no forceps nor ventouse and she managed to push very well when she was told to. The atmosphere in the room was fantastic with my parents, doctor and midwives all joking and clearly enjoying the experience.
I am well aware that it is not always that smooth when you have an epidural but I know what I am going to choose when my turn comes in 12 weeks time!

silverdogflower Sun 11-Apr-10 10:58:56

I love lovely lovely epidurals. Had one with all 3 DCs; after difficult pregnancies, is delightful to have pain-free birth. Don't know why everyone doesn't have one! Am totally unimpressed by people who witter on about how they didn't have any pain relief - do they have their teeth filled without an injection first? Or have their tonsils out without an anaesthetic?

IMHO is madness to have pain when it is avoidable!!!

(You can probably guess that I only went to one NCT class, as found it unbearably preachy etc. Hope it better now - this was 13 years ago).

Go for it!

Ineedsomesleep Sun 11-Apr-10 11:00:47

porcamiseria I'm sorry that you had such a poor experience in your NCT antenatal classes. This simply should not happen. You should have been given all the information you required and then left to make your own mind up.

As you feel so strongly about it, have your written to NCT Head Office to let them know? NCT Alexandra House, Oldham Terrace, London, W3 6NH

ooosabeauta Sun 11-Apr-10 11:10:36

I second Porcamiseria's experience of the NCT's take on this. I really liked our NCT group leader, but she was vocally against epidurals, because of the 'cascade of intervention'.

She's been working for the NCT for decades, and complained that the organisation's policy on intervention has changed massively to the point where it has lost its original standpoint and its integrity (it originally being founded as the 'Natural Childbirth Trust').

I had an epidural after 31hrs of back-to-back labour, and my ds arrived two hours later, so I was very glad to have one. It was the last ditch attempt to get him to turn before I was put in for a cs, so in cases like this it can actually help to prevent further problems. I wish I'd had it ten hours earlier!

My mum is a 'natural birther', but even she states that she was lucky that her 12 and 5 hour labours allowed her to be, and that you can't always tell what would happen if there are problems beyond your control.

serenity Sun 11-Apr-10 11:13:06

I'm anti-epidurals for me, couldn't care less what other people use, provided they know all the pros and cons. For me the pain never got bad enough to overcome the 'Do Not Want' aspect of that huge needle going in my spine (plus I had low blood pressure, had a back problem and suffered from migraines - all iffy for having an epidural)

Ellielou02 Sun 11-Apr-10 11:13:41

I had an epi for DD1, induction, left alone in a cubicle for hours, hubby sent away home by the time I was in real labour I was in agony with no one to alk to so just screamed for it, loved it as it took the pain away, but before the aneasthatist gave me it I felt the need to push but the MW said I couldnt possibly be needing to push, so DD1 wasnt born for six hours as I couldnt feel anything.

DD2: went into labour after a sweep, contractions were managable, got to MW led unit at 10am (was determined of this as had infection after being in big dirty hosp with DD1) so knew there was no hope of epi and had DD2 with nothing and I am not just saying this but it really was much better was able to get up and have a shower, knew there were no attached risks of drugs, never had to get stitches my only regret is that the pool didnt fill in time as I really wanted to have DD2 in water

pistachio Sun 11-Apr-10 11:13:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bruffin Sun 11-Apr-10 11:19:17

I had all the classic problems of an epidural when DS was born. I didn't even really want one but ended up with a 24 hour labour and DS was in distress. I couldn't feel any of the contractions. I ended up in theatre ready for an emergency cs if forceps failed (venteuse had already failed.
I am a wimp and don't like pain etc but when DD was born I had no pain relief at all. I can't take gas and air as I throw up. It was such a completely different experience as I was allowed to walk around and wasn't stuck on the bed.

On my two experienceds there is no way I would recommend an epidural.

HeatherTrott Sun 11-Apr-10 11:35:32

porcamiseria, sounds like we either had the name NCT antenatal teacher, or there is more than one person with this attitude within the NCT.

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