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Anyone else 'tricked' out of epidural?

1003 replies

liznay · 10/02/2011 17:25

I went over my birth notes today at the 'Birth Reflections' service at my local hospital. (In order to get closure and prepare for No 2!)
To cut a long story short, My previous labour was 27 hours from start to finish although I was only admitted for the last 7 hours.
I asked for an epidural no less than 6 times during this period and was given the excuse that I needed to be 4 cm before I could get one.
Suprise, Suprise, no one would examine me to check how dilated I was and so then it became 'too late' to give me once I had reached 10 cm.
Despite Nice guidelines saying that no woman should be refused an epidural (even in the latent first stage!) apparently the hospital have their own policy.
I am SO ANGRY about this and feel that I was ignored and treated like a small child. Incidentally, the hospital are unapologetic about this and refused to say sorry about the care I received. The most that they would conceed was that they had 'somehow failed me'.
Why is this still happening to us in the 21st century? Anyone else had a similar experience? What can we do about it, and how can we prevent it happening for subsequent births? It's time that midwives stopped deciding for us how much pain relief we need and consult with us regarding how to make our births more comfortable. Not saying that all midwives are like this, but mine was a particular dragon....Grin
I don't want this to turn into a debate on the pro's/cons of epidurals as this has been done to death elsewhere...

OP posts:
WincyEtNightie · 10/02/2011 17:26

Did you see One Born Every Minute this week? Fairly similar case there.

Rhian82 · 10/02/2011 17:37

I wasn't tricked like that, but I was refused one because they could apparently only have three women with one at any one time, and they already had one woman with and two women waiting (and the anaesthetist was in theatre anyway), so it was tough luck.

I get that it's to do with hospital resources, but I was particularly annoyed because at the pain relief class the head anaesthetist (a woman) had been very smug about how great they were and how almost everyone asks for one in the end, even when they started dead against them.

expatinscotland · 10/02/2011 17:38

I live in a rural area with only a MLU.

I specifically journeyed, by ambulance 1.5 hours to a CLU to get an epidural.

And I never let those lazy arse midwives forget it. I refused to get off the bed and harped at them. 'What if you have a baby before that?' 'I won't, lady, without getting what I came here for, got it?'

I even got others to ring them, asking if I'd got my epidural (they were just good friends checking to make sure I wasn't in any pain after such a long journey :o). Yep, had my phone and was texting away, 'Still no epi'.

For 4 fucking hours.

My waters broke as it was going in. But I got the damn thing.

Midwife tutted, 'Slowed the labour right down.' 'My body, my labour'.

She got nothing but scolding right back at it because I'm not a schoolgirl, I'm a woman who knows her own mind, who came there to get treated, not lectured, not talking down to, not bullied.

It happens because they're trying to keep their costs down.

Also, because they don't want to sit one on one with a patient. They'll say they can't because they are short-staffed. And when someone has an epi, they can't be left on their own.

And because it is women who give birth and this is a misogynistic, chauvinistic culture that treats women like second-class citizens.

THAT is why people are treated like this.

And it makes me just as angry as it does you.

Till I got my fucking epidural.

liznay · 10/02/2011 17:44

expat, maybe you'd like to come and be my doula for next time Grin I think I'll need an advocate if I ever go back!
I want to write to my M.P. about this. I don't see why we should carry on letting this happen to us. The only way I can avoid this happening again is to go private, but then I'm technically paying twice, once through my taxes and again privately.
I'm seeing the consultant on Monday so we'll see what he has to say about the matter... Smile

OP posts:
TheChewyToffeeMum · 10/02/2011 17:45

They tried to put me off too. I was "only" 3cm dilated (not to mention exhausted after 29hrs of back-to-back contractions) so it was "too early for strong pain relief". Luckily, I got hysterical at this point and demanded they call the consultant in to give me a section - we agreed to compromise Grin.

It still makes me very angry that I was made to feel as if I was not trying hard enough. I feel very sorry for any women who feel that they have to accept this. This paternalistic attitude to pain relief helps no-one.

expatinscotland · 10/02/2011 17:47

See, even if you see a consultant, they'll pull that, 'Well, we can't guarantee'.

I think that's bullshit.

If I had had the funds, I'd have had a private CS. I suffered PTSD from the experience of drug-free childbirth.

It should not be forced on women who don't want that experience.

But because it's women and the NHS is cheap, it is.

There's also the culture in the UK that is very anti-pain relief, anti medication of any kind.

dickcheeseandthecrackers · 10/02/2011 17:54

I got bluntly told no epidurals were available on arriving in the delivery room. ( I had in my notes about being frightened, wanting epidural etc etc) I broke down sobbing between contractions while awful midwife just stared through me and offered me NO support. I think I cried for about 10 mins (very scared of pain) and then I had to get on with it, the contractions were very close together.

Now as it turns out, we were in a homebirth suite where they didn't administer epidurals at all. But awful midwife didn't tell me that.

Everything turned out okay, but the manner of the midwife and the straight out dismissal of any pain relief options apart from gas and air was for me, very upsetting.

BeatriceLaBranche · 10/02/2011 19:12

I am shocked that you weren't going to be allowed epidurals!

How controlling and disbelieving of you. It would make me furious too. I was lucky in all three of my experiences, I had heard tales but my consultant was pretty good each time.

With DD2, the anesthetist was in surgery, but I still got my epidural at 8/9 cm when he was available (consultant intervened again).

I think that any woman is entitled to the birth she chooses and that should be aided as much as possible.

StarlightMcKenzie · 10/02/2011 19:19

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StarlightMcKenzie · 10/02/2011 19:20

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laluna · 10/02/2011 19:21

OP, could you please post the link to the NICE guidelines you referred to? Would be really interested. Thanks.

StarlightMcKenzie · 10/02/2011 19:21

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BeatriceLaBranche · 10/02/2011 19:24

I'm sorry.

That really is awful. My sister and my DH's cousin told me that they too begged for an epidural and weren't given one (all sorts of excuses).

With DD1, I (ashamedly) went in at 2cm and accused them all of being in cohorts and threatened litigation. I didn't get the epidural for hours and hours later and I'm not sure it had anything to do with it. DS and DD2 were within the high risk clinic and I think that helped with them (lovely consultant).

KangarooCaught · 10/02/2011 19:27

Yes, my experience largely the same. I did most of my labouring at home, the pain got unbearable, went to hospital, told I was 2cm dilated and come back much much later - no offer of any pain relief at all - but I fully dilated within the hour and was pushing in the car.

My notes clearly stated I wanted an epidural, that gas and air had previously made me sick. Guess what I was given? Gas and air which they took away after 20 mins as it made my pushing ineffective/me sick. All requests for pain relief were ignored. I wanted to stand up but mw insisted I lie down. I was pushing for 4 agonising hours, tore early on in that process high up and knew something was wrong. Baby born not breathing, rushed away. And no pain relief.

And that was just the start of the crap care in hospital. My notes later said the birth was mismanaged and traumatic.

For birth no 2 I was offered a guaranteed epidural, the longest I would have to wait would be 30 mins (mw didn't want me to have a csection). When I asked what would happen if someone else wanted an epi at the same time I was told "They'd be counselled away from having one" Sad God help them if their 'counselling' was anything like mine. In the end I was induced, had immediate epidural, the whole labour took 5 hours and I was topped up at source so I felt nothing. It was an excellent birth and laid to rest the ghosts of the past.

liznay · 10/02/2011 19:52

For Laluna

and anyone else who needs it.
See page 21 for guidance on epidurals and how we shouldn't be denied it.
What a fucking joke. When I brought this up, the midwife said they were 'just guidelines' Great, so what was the point of spending millions of pounds of taxpapers money funding the research into it then...

To the others, I'm sorry that you've had these types of experiences. It is my belief that anyone requesting pain relief should get it. If you want a nice, natural, drug free birth, you should get that too.
We are women, not animals.

OP posts:
expatinscotland · 10/02/2011 20:12

Never once had a problem with consultants. The second the consultant got involved, I was listened to.

Fucking midwives, however, like to keep you away from them because then they'll actually have to work and not fob people off.

I got told, with DD1, my first, who turned out to be OP and with her hand up cupping her head above her ear, that I wasn't in that much pain.

But she'd never had a baby. I told her where to go with that!

And complained about her formally, too.

I've never ever met more unprofessional healthcare providers than midwives, tbh.

There are lovely ones, but my experience of hospital ones is not good.

BeatriceLaBranche · 10/02/2011 21:00

Yes, it's funny the way once a consultant gets involved, things get done.

I did have the same midwife for DS and DD2 though and she was fab also.

WidowWadman · 10/02/2011 21:11

I had a midwife and my husband shouting at me telling me quite firmly that I should maybe consider pain relief, because I was obviously in pain, and despite all my denial I actually was having contractions and was in labour, and was attached to a drip which was causing a lot of pain.

After reading all the natural birth stuff during pregnancy I was so terrified of pain relief and the cascade of intervention, that I didn't want to allow it. I'm glad they convinced me in the end, and I'm glad that I wasn't in an anti-pain relief hospital.

Rhian82 · 10/02/2011 23:04

Oh, one other point with mine?

I'd wanted a home birth, but on the day was told that they weren't able to give me any pain relief at home (even gas and air). So I transferred into hospital specifically for pain relief. When I got there I asked for an epidural, was told not possible. I asked for pethidine, they said they'd sort it, went away. Forgot about me. A while later, when we rang the bell to ask where the hell my pethidine was, they examined me, said I was at 10cm (too late for pethidine) and to start pushing.

Gas and air I gave up on as it was having no effect and just messing up my breathing. So I wanted an epidural, and actually gave birth without any pain relief. Fun fun.

hotcrossbunny · 10/02/2011 23:29

Your stories are bringing back so many memoriesSad I went into hospital 8-9cms dilated, they broke my waters and the contractions got horrendous immediately. I went from in control to incoherent immediately. 7 hours of agony later our dd was born, I had a double extended episiotomy all on gas and air. I was pushing for 3 hours. My dh was black and blue from rushing from side to side trying to stop me lurching off the bed trying to avoid the pain. The epidural I was promised didn't materialise. I've not been brave enough to have another baby and dd is now 7Sad

It's brutal and wrong on so many levels. I didn't realise it was so widespreadSad

GruffalosGirl · 11/02/2011 00:32

The only reason I got my epidural was because I was a home birth transfer to be put on an induction drip and I refused to let them put the drip up until the epidural was already in place. I got it in half an hour then.

All the other people in my antenatal group had to fight and I think only one other out of 8 got one.

expatinscotland · 11/02/2011 09:18

'I had a double extended episiotomy all on gas and air.'

See, I just don't get this. I watch 'Emergency Bikers' and the paramedics are injecting people who might have a broken ankle full of morphine, but if I had 5p for every women I've read about on here in the past 6 years who's had episiotomies or even instrumental deliveries on G&A I'd be rich.

It seems to be that if it's childbirth it's okay to cut a person's genitals with a scalpel with no pain relief (because G&A is not, IMO, and it doesnt' relieve pain for everyone).

It's a travesty.

hotcrossbunny · 11/02/2011 09:38

expatinscotland you're absolutely right

Rhian82 · 11/02/2011 09:41

Yep, I had an episiotomy with no pain relief, even gas and air. He injected local anaesthetic first, but cut instantly after the injection, so there was no time for it to take effect. Only time I screamed during the whole thing!

I don't blame the obs for that - they were concerned about DS's heartbeat and trying to get him out as quickly as possible - but if I'd had the epidural I'd asked for earlier I wouldn't have felt it.

Rhian82 · 11/02/2011 09:41

(Oh, and he cut with scissors, not a scalpel. Shocked my husband somewhat!)

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