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Thread: Q about using pethidine during labour...

  1. #1

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    Default Q about using pethidine during labour...

    Hi, I have a silly question! does pethidine make u lose your memory??

    I used pethidine during labour, and it worked after about 10-15 minutes. After having it I felt quite woozy and apparently i looked stoned and sleepy.

    I have absolutely no memory of the few hours after getting the pethidine. In my memory I was in the shower for the entire time I was labouring at the hospital, but DH tells me after I had the pethidine I didnt want the shower and went to lie on the bed and fell asleep between contrax.. which i completely dont remember ... then after a couple hours when the pethidine wore offf i wanted the shower again.



    So basically, my question is, did anyone else who used pethdine not remember a whole chunk of their labour??
    this really freaks me out because i really thought i was in control...

  2. #2

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    Karina, I found that the pethidine really affected my ability to remember things clearly. I do have some recolection, but it is all out of wack with timing etc.

    I am adamant to go without the pethidine this time!

  3. #3

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    i too had pethidene and memory loss!! i still ask DH questions about my labour, it did help in that it relaxed me, i slept for several hours and dialated quicker, but hate the fact that there are things i cant remeber, willnever have it again

  4. #4

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    Ummm...yes most definitely!

    I had it in my first labour and there's about 2 hours of that labour that is just one big bluuuur. Lucky I have another 16 hours of it that are clear as crystal
    Peth knocked me for six - Basically for an hour I was passed out cold on the bed and according to DH I sat bolt upright like someone rising from the dead with every contraction, and passed out again when it was over. Over and over for an hour. I have only the vaguest recollection of this.

    My second labour I didn't rule much out but the one thing I told my DH was laid in stone was NO PETH! It just wiped me and made me feel sooo out of control. Horrible

  5. #5

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    What are the disadvantages of using pethidine for pain relief in labour?

    Pethidine may not provide adequate pain relief for some women. Nausea and vomiting are common, a medication may be mixed with the pethidine to help reduce these effects. Some women report feeling drowsy and confused. The effects pethidine has on perception may make the contractions difficult to deal with. Other potential side effects for the woman in labour include difficulty passing urine, dry mouth, hallucinations, respiratory depression, low blood pressure and allergic reaction .

    There are no advantages to the baby if the mother has pethidine. Pethidine is known to cross the placenta and is present in breastmilk. The major problem for the baby is that pethidine can cause breathing difficulties after birth due to its depressive effect on the baby’s respiratory centre. These effects are at the worse if the baby is born one to three hours after an injection of pethidine has been given. This is the reason that pethidine is ideally avoided when the birth is perceived to be close. An antidote can be given to the baby to reverse the effects of pethidine, however the effects of the antidote only last a short time and when they wear off the baby may re-experience breathing problems. Baby’s are more likely to have jaundice if their mothers have pethidine. Pethidine effects the baby’s sucking reflex and can cause breastfeeding difficulties for the first few days. Baby’s may require special care or neonatal intensive care from the effects of pethidine, resulting in separation of mother and baby.
    This is from Birth International (Andrea Robertson's site)

    Narcotic (Opiate) Drugs
    Pethidine (demerol), Morphine, Heroin (diamorphine)

    This group of drugs have similar properties and effects. They are usually given as a sedatives in labour. They are not pain killing drugs, but may ease the pain indirectly as the mother becomes sedated.

    Pethidine (demerol) is the most widely used, so it will be used as an example. Less is known about the effects of the other opiates on women and newborns because less research has been conducted to test their efficacy and safety.

    Dosage:
    The drug is supplied in prepared doses and 100mg is the commonest size, although smaller doses may be available. It should be given according to body weight. Pethidine is usually prescribed by a doctor but given by the midwife, and if a smaller dose is requested by the mother, the midwife will have to consult the doctor before the dose can be varied. 75 mg would be required for an average man when being used for post-operative pain.

    It may be possible to request a smaller dose to begin, on the basis that if this is not enough, more can be administered later. Once in the system it is impossible to remove the drug except by waiting for the woman's body to eliminate the drug through her liver and kidneys (about 6 hours in a pregnant woman).

    Time lag:
    10-20 minutes

    Duration:
    2-3 hours

    Route administered:
    Usually by injection into the thigh or buttock. Sometimes via a drip, if one is in place.

    When given:
    During first stage, once labour is established. Should not be given if the birth is expected within 2 hours. Sometimes given for pain relief following Caesarean section.

    Effects on the mother:
    Advantages:
    1. Sedates.
    2. Has a secondary effect as a muscle relaxant, which ay lessen pain and reduce muscle tension, allowing faster dilatation.
    3. May reduce pain.

    Disadvantages:
    1. Does not relieve the pain directly.
    2. Creates a high', with feelings of floating and light-headedness that makes concentration difficult.
    3. Some people are so sedated that drowsiness makes it difficult to cope with contractions.
    4. Nausea, vomiting and dizziness are all common side-effects. An additional drug to counteract these effects is usually mixed with the pethidine before injection.
    5. Depresses the mother's breathing rate, which can reduce oxygenation of the blood.
    6. If the sedation results in a more rapid rate of dilatation than was expected, the baby may be born with more of the drug in its system than was intended.
    7. Opiate drugs cause delayed emptying of the stomach, increasing the risks of aspiration syndrome, a serious complication, if a general anaesthetic becomes necessary.

    Effects on the baby
    Advantages: None.

    Disadvantages:
    1. Pethidine crosses the placental barrier and depresses the baby's respiratory centre. This will cause breathing difficulties for the baby if it is born when the drug is at a maximum dosage in its system (between 1 and 3 hours after the injection).
    2. An antidote to counteract the depressive effects on the baby can be given but this gives only temporary relief and the baby may still suffer breathing difficulties when the antidote wears off after a few hours.
    3. Increased likelihood of jaundice as the baby's immature system works to eliminate the drug (and its antidote, if given). It may take 4-5 days for the baby to eliminate most of this drug from its system.
    4. Separation of mother and baby if these problems are severe.
    5. Difficulties establishing breastfeeding due to a depressed suckling reflex.
    6. Research has demonstrated a potential link between exposure of some babies to pethidine during labour and their later development of an addiction to opiate drugs as teenagers.
    Last edited by BellyBelly; March 9th, 2007 at 09:30 PM.
    Kelly xx

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    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Find out how to have a BETTER, more confident birth experience... guaranteed!
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  6. #6

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    Yep big chunk of time missing. My first no drugs everything remembered just as if it happened yesterday. Second - posterior - ouch. Doc suggested pethidene and stupidly under the fog of pain did it. My baby was born before it kicked in and I have a whole chunk of time missing from just after the birth which I have regrets about. It really took me two days to bond instead of instant eyes locking like my first and I put it down to this. Plus a really sore leg where the injection went in for days. I wouldn't do it again. As much as i tried I just couldn't stay awake and can't remember some of the most important memories I should have.

  7. #7

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    i had peth one shot in one thigh and another shot in the other. I remember my labour all of it. It did not effect me at all and my Baby was a 10pnd 5 healthy one. Apgar score was 9/10 so i had no effects and it did not effect my baby one bit. Everyone has different reactions to drugs though and maybe i am one of the lucky ones. I also had gas. My second labur i will do the same if need be, i just go with the flow and don't put birth plans in place so i don't get disappointed if it doesn't happen the way i wanted it iukwim.

  8. #8

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    I too had pethadine and lost a whole portion of my birth experience. Thankfully a good friend of mine who was my 2nd support person wrote down notes for me throughout the night. I also had an epidural and a c/section and it was one long drawn out stressful experience. I hope with #2 that I won't need the pethadine or the epidural!!

  9. #9
    Kirsty77 Guest

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    I had one shot of peth with Gemma and it had no affect on me what so ever it didn't help with the pain and I can still remember everything that happened.

  10. #10

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    Thanks for your responses ladies. I now know the effects the pethidine had on me seem to be not all that uncommon. It was a side effect I knew nothing of though. I do remember the midwife telling me it would probably make me feel dizzy, dull the pain for me and make me a bit floppy, and possibly vomit, but I had no idea on the possible memory loss and dont remember this being mentioned.

    I'm not going to say I regret using it, but i probably should have asked more questions or done more research beforehand... but i guess you dont think of asking more questions when youre having an almightly contraction while the midwife is explaining pethidine to you. I guess I am just a bit disappointed that I dont remember a whole chunk of it and DH has had to tell me what happened.

  11. #11

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    It did make me feel sleepy and 'drunk', but I do remember everything. I have had peth several times other than during a birth too. One big thing I noticed wtih Paige was I had it about 1.5hrs before she was born and it made me dilate 7cm's in an hr and while I 'slept' through it in a way (sucking on gas the entire time too), I saw some pretty funky things when I had my eyes shut - so I had the hallucinations as a side effect too. When she was born, she needed a third apgar test because her she scored 6, 7 and then finally 10 at 10 minutes. It luckily didn't affect her in any other way though - she suckled as soon as she was put to the breast when she was born.

  12. #12

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    If anyone is willing to share their stories about using pethidine in labour, can you please email me your thoughts and experiences, either anonymously or not, to [email protected]

    It will be for the April update.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children

    BellyBelly Birth & Early Parenting Immersion - Find out how to have a BETTER, more confident birth experience... guaranteed!
    Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know

  13. #13

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    I had a jab of pethidine and I really regret it. In hindsight if I'd had a more supportive midwife I would never have taken it (she was offering pain relief every 15 minutes for crying out loud) and when I did accept it I had no idea that it could effect the baby (I must have zoned out during that part of the antenatal class!)

    It made me close my eyes for almost 3 hours lol though I do still remember it all. Em had breathing difficulties and had to go on oxygen which mean they had to cut the cord straight away & I didn't get to hold him straight away either He was also jaundice as well. I had no idea that the peth caused this till weeks later.

    I will definitely be avoiding pethidine next time round that's for sure!

  14. #14

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    Yep - I had pethidine. As much as I fought off having any drugs it just got to that point...I'd been induced for 10 hours and had only dilated 2cm!!! After I had it I was fully dilated within the next 3 hours!! So for me definitley worth it...Luckily that meant Louis was born 4 hours after I had the initial dose so it was well and truly wearing off. He scored 9 and 9 on his apgar and I had no drama feeding.
    If I have trouble dilating this time around I won't hesitate to have it again....Although I'd much prefer to do it naturally but we'll just have to see how it pans out!!
    While I was on it I don't really remember much but for me there wasn't much to remember! I was lying on the bed the whole time attached to a moniter and drips etc so it didn't really matter....

  15. #15

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    I had it but was only for the benefit id not slept in 48 hours and they wanted me to rest cos they thought i was going to be in for a long day. I had it at 3am....DD was born 11.22am that day. I remember most of it....but i guess thats cos i had it so early in the labour so wasnt directly effecting me.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lea13 View Post
    (she was offering pain relief every 15 minutes for crying out loud)
    Yeah - my DH had to go out and tell the midwife to stop offering me pain relief. It was driving me MENTAL! I'm having a birthplan next time.. even if it only has that 1 thing listed on it LOL, that if I want drugs, I'll ask for them.. don't keep offering!

    Back on topic tho - I have never heard of pethadine having these effects! They certainly weren't listed as side effects in the information we received. All I knew was it could make you vomit, so it's usually mixed with maxalon or something to prevent that.

  17. #17
    Fee Guest

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    I had 2 shots of Pethidine. First one was around 3.00 am. I was close to being 5 cm dilated I think. I then had a second shot at 5.30 am during transition. Cooper was born at 7.18 am and had Apgar scores of 6 and 9. I think Cooper had to have that special injection to counteract the effects of the Pethidine.

    I sorta wish I hadn't had it as I don't think it really helped with the pain at all! Made me feel sick but I didn't throw up. Some of my thoughts of the labour aren't really clear but I think some of that is also to do with being nearly 8 months ago!!!

  18. #18
    storm04 Guest

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    I had an epidural my first birth it was so traumatic and scared the heck out of me!
    My next two i had pethedine and i have to say it was like heaven to me!
    I no sooner had the shot and on both occasions bubs was born within half an hour, it was as tho it totally relaxed me
    I remember everything and i know that on both occassions i fed bubs after birth then hubby and the midwives took bubs away for a clean up and check over so i could rest for an hour or so, i know that i slept a at least an hour and then i felt alive again and could enjoy bubs,
    gave hubby a chance to ponder over bubs too which he said he really enjoyed and he didnt feel bad as i was sleeping so he wasnt taking bubs away from me.
    As far as i know it didnt affect both bubs as the timing was right when i had it and as both occassions i had bub so quickly afterwards it didnt really had a chance to kick into there system.
    My experience is good sped things up helped me relax more and it worked for me,
    i have heard good and bad though but to me it worked wonders!!
    Next baby, i wont knock it back if i need it

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