Advanced search

Got questions about giving birth? Know what to expect and when to expect it, with the Mumsnet Pregnancy Calendar.

To Epidural or not to Epidural

(70 Posts)
Holymoly321 Mon 15-Aug-05 16:06:51

Hi all, I'm now six weeks away from the big event and am confused about whether or not to have an epidural. I'm not keen on pain, and I have no qualms about not having a totally 'natural' birth - i just want to get the baby out! What are the pro's and con's of epidurals? What have people's experiences been? Would you recommend them - do you wish you'd had one? Did it mean that you had a tear or bigger tear etc etc? Any advice would be most gratefully recieved!

expatinscotland Mon 15-Aug-05 16:12:29

It's really something where you need to let your body be your guide, as the pain of labour is different for every women and every pregnancy.

I'm glad I had one, but it was not my first - I'd had one before, as well as other anesthesias, for past surgeries. Also my baby was malpositioned and the pain was truly dire for me.

But that's just my experience and others have completely different reasons for having or not having them.

RnB Mon 15-Aug-05 16:12:40

Message withdrawn

Blu Mon 15-Aug-05 16:13:33

I think there was a sort of 'poll' thread recently that seemed to show that people having epidurals hadn't necessarily had further intervention as a result of the epi. (not scientific, of course, just lots of MN experiences).

I was a determined 'natural birther', and didn't actually feel the need for any pain relief until after 3.5 hours pushing there was still no sign of a baby. As soon as they wanted me to lie on my back for ventouse, i immediately asked for an epidural, and got one. I think if you are confident and 'into it' and things are going well, you may well not feel you want one, but my own opinion would be if you would like the immediate relief from pain at any stage,(and have got to the end of the road with G&A) why on earth wouldn't you just have an epidural?
See how you go, and don't worry about any former or outside views - it's YOU in labour, do what feels right at the time.

And congratulations on your pg, and good luck.

Ulysees Mon 15-Aug-05 16:14:32

I agree with expat, you'll soon know. Is it your 1st?

I had one with DS1 after a long labour and am glad I did as I was knackered.

BibiTwo Mon 15-Aug-05 16:14:33

Sorry to kick off with a "con" but my epidural didn't work properly. After the midwife promised me a pain-free time of it, I was left with only half of it working. I could feel everything in my right-hand side and nothing in my left.
What I mean to say is that although I know many, many women who have had fab epidurals and have indeed been pain free, the midwives don't always explain to you that it might not work 100%

I have only read about experiences like mine though, so I don't believe it's all that common. Most people rave epidurals and given the choice, I would have one rather than suffer. Good luck with the birth!

morningpaper Mon 15-Aug-05 16:16:13

I had an epi during horrible 27 hour labour with my daughter. But it didn't work. I was GUTTED too and also hysterical. I wanted to avoid pethidine because of the affects on the baby. But in retrospect I wish I'd tried the pethidine first - mind you, you never know what's going to work until you try it. It's a difficult decision and one that I think is impossible to try to make before the event. Good luck!

almost40 Mon 15-Aug-05 16:16:43

I've had 2, and wouldn't have it any other way. I agree with Blu's post.

pooka Mon 15-Aug-05 16:20:37

I had one and TBH I think it did contribute to bad tear as it was still fully active for pushin stage. Didn't delay or lengthen that stage at all though, and it was absolute bliss being pain free at the time.

sweetkitty Mon 15-Aug-05 16:21:08

I would wait and see go into it with an open mind. I'm a complete wuss when it comes to pain I thought I would have everything going. As it turns out I was too late for anything other than gas and air (4 hour labour) was screaming for an epidural at the end though butI'm glad I didn't as I got up afterwards had a shower like nothing had happened.

I think if you set your heart on a natural birth and it ends up not going to plan you could feel disappointed. You'll not know what you want until it happens.

Good luck with the birth yes it hurts like hell I won't lie to you but it will be the most amazing day of your life.

Aero Mon 15-Aug-05 16:23:42

Worked beautifully with my first baby (ds1) and I was able to relax (when pain got too much) and concentrate on pushing him out. I was able to stay on my knees holding pillows and dh and felt no pain, just contractions. Was wonderful, however, with second baby (dd), it didn't have any effect as I had it too late - so I guess if you do opt for one, make sure you don't leave it too late. Dd was born 20 mins after the needle went in and I felt the true pain of labour. Coupled with an awful midwife, it wasn't a great experience!
With ds2, I went for a home birth, figuring I could cope with the pain providing the support was better (I knew my midwife well). It was a wonderful experience and the pain was so much more bearable at home with people who knew me and cared for me. Ds2 arrived without any pain relief and tbh, that was my best birth experience. If doing it again (which I'm sure I won't be), I'd go for the home birth and no pain (apart from entinox which I only had a puff of before I felt sick so discontinued) relief every time. Not sure if this is helpful, but for a first baby when labour tends to be much longer, I'd go for the epidural. My labour times roughly halved with each baby.

marne Mon 15-Aug-05 16:23:42

i didnt have one with dd (wish i did), will be having one this time if i can, i hate pain.

madmarchhare Mon 15-Aug-05 16:24:23

Have to agree with Blu and Expat in that you really need to 'suck it and see'. I had one after hot bath, paracetamol(WTF!), Tens, pethadine and g&a. DS was posterior and I really could no handle it any more.

Only thing was I didnt know that I would have to have a catheter fitted (really I didnt ), which was a bit of a shock! I was insisting (the g&a I think) that I didnt need one and MW said OK then, can you try and wee for me?, I couldnt control my legs never mind my bladder and gave in graciously (well, not very!)

Anyway went on to have CSection, but overall well worth it and would have another if I were to have any more kids (but thats another boring story)

Chuffed Mon 15-Aug-05 16:35:40

Will agree with the others as to 'you don't know how you will cope and how much pain you will have' some people have mild period like cramping until the urge to push, I was throwing up with almost every contraction by 5cm dilated.
My epidural worked perfectly first lot of drugs then the next lot it seemed to have an effect on only one side so next top up I rolled over to the other side and that side then went numb and just kept doing that. Absolute bliss. I also went on to have c-sect but would have no matter what pain relief I had due to my pelvis. Although it was an 'emergency c-sec' the stress and rush at the end was probably a little less so as they just had to get the drug combination right to numb me rather than having to place site etc etc.

I would surround yourself with 'great birth experiences' as there are a ton of them. Don't rule anything out completely in your birth plan but maybe note the things you would prefer to try first?

Aero Mon 15-Aug-05 17:05:09

Gosh mmh - had totally forgotten about the catheter part. Don't be though - I also had no idea at the time. The lovely midwife suggested I might need to wee and I insisted I didn't. In went the catheter (painlessly I might add) and out came a flood!!

morningpaper Mon 15-Aug-05 17:08:11

It took four nurses to find the 'hole' to put my catheter. At one stage I was looking down watching three of them trying to locate the right place and staring intently at my bits like three plumbers mulling over a particularly difficult pipe problem...

MaloryTowers Mon 15-Aug-05 17:09:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blu Mon 15-Aug-05 17:10:05

You see, honestly, Smiling, I DIDN'T think it hurt like hell, at all, until lying on my back and being required to keep still. That panicked me and I wanted an epi. But until then, with TENS, pool and plenty of 'breathing' I was absolutely fine. It was a long, slow, OP labour, hard work and sometimes uncomfortable, but in no way un-handle-able. Other people want / need an epi as soon as labour is established - and why not?

morningpaper Mon 15-Aug-05 17:11:56

> like having your leg off with a chainsaw -but worse.

I agree - for me it was worse, and really really slow .... like having your legs off over a 24 hour period... Someone recently wrote here that if they didn't have epidurals I would have just asked for a gun - I completely agree!

RosiePosie Mon 15-Aug-05 17:33:34

I hated my epidural - I hated how clinical it was, the canular (sp?) - ouch!- the catheter - humiliating. . midwife wonders past, picks up my bag of p*ss and says "you need to drink more, mrs barrett" every hour - the complete inability to walk for hours both during and after the birth, yet I was still expected to care for the baby entirely on my own for the first night. The fact that it made me vomit continuously until he was born, the fact that when I did eventually mangage to stand up, a niagra falls of blood hit the floor. Yuk yuk yuk.

However, I had a natural homebirth with just G&A the next time - and boy was I shocked at how much it hurt! That gave me a new understanding of the epidural and made me realise just how much pain it had taken away and how lovely and calm the pushing stage had been compared to the second time.

I'm now expecting my third and having experienced a full on hospital birth with all the intervention and homebirth with just G&A, I am opting for the homebirth again - yes it's going to hurt like hell but as long as I have my trusty G&A with me I know I'll be just fine.

Eugenius Mon 15-Aug-05 17:35:55


BLOODY FANTASTIC - get one, get one, get one!

sweetkitty Mon 15-Aug-05 17:39:45

this time I'm hoping to cough and the baby will fall out!

clary Mon 15-Aug-05 17:42:56

smiling, I have had three births with no epidural, mainly because I personally didn’t want that kind of invasive anasthaesia (not trying to start an anti-epidural debate here ).
My fears were that it can lead to a cascade of intervention eg need for ventouse/forceps/section and I felt that as long asI was able to manage the pain on gas and air I would do so.
As it happened it was fine which I was pleased about as also did not fancy a catheter/not being able to move in labour. A very mobile labour worked for me every time.

That said, this is just my experience. Many many people have very positive experiences of epidurals with excellent pain relief and no other intervention needed.

With my 2nd and 3rd babies btw, I wouldn’t have had time for an epi anyway!

reading the thread, I agree with others who say it’s down to how you feel at the time and as the labour progresses, don’t rule anythign in or out

LilacLotus Mon 15-Aug-05 17:51:04

i had one after i had been in labour for about 28 hours. then DP decided for me as i was out of it. it was great because we both got to sleep for an hour. for pushing they lowered it and that was fine. DD was delivered with forceps after failed ventouse. when they removed the stuff from my back i collapsed because my blood pressure had dropped very low. after 10 minutes of nurses and doctors giving me oxygen, putting me on drips and constantly checking my BP, i was ok.
looking back i would have one again if i was too tired or in too much pain.

jessicaandbumpsmummy Mon 15-Aug-05 17:55:10


I was induced, thereforwe more prone to a painful labour.... I lasted 30 minutes of contractions before demanding the Epidural!

Once in, I slept for the first time in over 24 hours and the midwife woke me up to start pushing!!!

No tears and Jess was born after 15 minutes pushing - no prizes for guessing what my birth plan reads this time round!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: