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Thread: Labour with Epidural

  1. #1

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    Default Labour with Epidural

    hi there,
    I'm just wondering if anybody who's been through it could tell me what labour is like with an epidural? Is it totally painless once it kicks in? How much pain will you have to go through before you get it? What happens then - do you just sit around waiting until you've dilated to 10cm? What about the actual birth....can you feel anything? Is it still very physically difficult pushing?



    Sorry for all the questions! Just want to know what to expect if i go down that route!

  2. #2
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    Hi Kitz,

    Every situation is different with an epidural. I was given an epidural at 7cm as bubs was posterior. I had been asking for one from 5cms and they wouldn't give me one as I was dialating well and they didn't want to "mess" with that iykwim?! When I was given my epi I was in a lot of pain (as you would expect). When I was given the epi it took around 15 mins for it to kick in and then after that all I could feel was pressure ie. tightening around your belly. I was left to continue dilating and was at 10cms when I was taken to theater due to other reasons. I had tried pushing and it still is physical but I dare say not as much as with no drugs.

    HTH and good luck with everything.

  3. #3

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    Hi there

    Like Oshani said, every situation is different. I had an epi basically because I wanted to press the pause button! I'd had a very long pre-labour and had 7 hours sleep in three days so for me it wasn't the pain so much as the length of the labour that was the killer - I was knackered. My baby was also posterior so it was always going to be slow.

    I had mine at about 7cm. That meant I could rest for a couple of hours before I was dilated enough to push. The epi took all the pain away and I felt fantastic. Like I said, I just REALLY wanted a break from pain after three days. And infact, those two hours were the only pain-free hours I had in seven months because I'd also been suffering from an unstable pelvis.

    I couldn't really feel much with the pushing - did it for 2.5 hours and nothing happening. I also couldn't move into better positions so was doing the flat on the back in bed business which is not optimal for getting the baby out but as your legs are numb you can't really do anything else.

    But I knew all that before I had the epidural and I'd weighed up the pros and cons.

    In the end, I had a forceps delivery.

    Given the same set of circumstances, I'd do exactly the same.

    Just make sure you know all the pros and cons - if you have an epidural you are much more likely to have other interventions - ventouse, forceps, caesarean because it's harder to push the baby out naturally. And it depends on your obstetrician - some private obs seem more reluctant these days to use forceps and will send you off for a ceasar - my midwives told me lots of the other obs would only have 'let me' push for 20 mins, then told me the baby was stuck and I had to have a caesar. My ob is very much vaginal birth where possible so I was lucky there.

    And remember that it's not always about the pain, it's about the length of the labour too AND that's not something you can predict or really prepare for.

  4. #4

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    Hi,
    I had an epidural with my 3rd baby who was 9lb 9oz. I was induced and needed syntocinon to get things going -- they got going very quickly and she got stuck so I had a low spinal first ( as I couldn't keep still enough for epidural) once that kicked in it was magic. I had no discomfort I went on to have the epidural and I relaxed and then DD was born one hour later. I felt the urge to push and pushed her out.
    Every situation is different, I was induced with my first and just had gad for the delivery and the same with my second. But because DD was bigger the epidural was fabulous.

    Weigh up the pros and cons and see what happens during your labour!
    Sue

  5. #5

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    I had an epidural with DS#2. I had a traumatic, long first labour with a terrible recovery (due to blood loss) so I chose an epidural the second time around to give me a chance to rest as last time I was a write-off for weeks afterwards.

    For me it was nearly completely painless, but I still felt pain at the top of my ribs where the epi couldn't reach. It was still heaps better though! I could feel each contraction, but they just didn't hurt.

    Re: your question about how much pain you have to be in before you get one, it just depends on your hospital. I was managing the pain really well, but I asked for an epi at 5cm and when I told them about my first labour they didn't hesitate and organised one straight away. I think private hospitals are a bit more sparing with epidurals due to the costs, but again it will depend on the hospital. Maybe you could ask your hospital at your next visit?

    Yes I did have to just sit around for the next couple of hours, but it was so relaxing and enjoyable that I didn't mind at all. My epi started wearing off when it came time to push and I pushed my DS out by myself within 15 minutes.

    I personally had a good experience, but not everyone does. I probably could have gone through labour without it because I was handling it so well using lots of relaxation techniques and deep breathing, but because of my previous trauma I felt an epidural was what I needed to make the whole experience positive for me.

    It is definitely worth looking at natural pain relief methods first as they really do work.

    HTH

  6. #6

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    I had an epidural after 24 hours of labour and only 5cm dialated. Also had to have whatever it is they put into a drip to help speed things up.

    I was able to sleep on and off for a few hours which was a lifesaver (was in labour for a total of 32.5 hours). They put you on a monitor to measure the contractions. I remember one time I woke up, looked at the monitor and it was up around 196 which was a massive contraction and I didn't feel a thing

    They did have to make the epidural wear off a little so that I could start feeling the contractions again and know when to push. The pushing was fine (contractions really hurt though) and when my daughter came out all I felt was a bit of pressure as her head and shoulders came out, no pain.

    Was also great coz I had an episodimy and had stitches and I didn't feel any of that either.

  7. #7

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    I had one for my first labour, mainly due to the fact that I was induced for pre-eclampsia and they wanted to keep my blood pressure down, so I had the epi. I felt absolutely nothing at all - it was like I was paralysed from the waist down. I couldn't move my legs at all - I needed help with that and I couldn't feel to push either. I came very close to having a forceps delivery, but thankfully DS made his way out without them. Because I couldn't feel anything I also had to have a catheter put in, which I hated. And after the birth, I didn't get full feeling back in my lower body until the following morning. As you can probably guess, all in all my experience was not a positive one. There were positives of course - no pain at all, and I didn't feel a thing when they stitched me up afterwards. But on the whole I didn't like the experience of having an epi. I did not have one for my next two births, in fact I had no pain relief at all, and they were heaps better experiences.

  8. #8

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    I had one at about the 26 hour mark because like others have said, I was just so exhausted and hadn't slept in about 40 hours and I really needed a break. I was really against having an epi at all but once it went in the painlessness and ability to sleep were bliss - I asked them to top it up for me a couple of times when I felt it wearing off!! I did let it wear off when I was getting close though so I was completely in control with pushing, and after an hour of pushing my DD was born. So yes, it was still very physically demanding but that was because I wanted the effects of the epi to be gone completely by the pushing stage so that I could do as much as possible to get my DD born quickly.

    I was REALLY against having an epidural to the point that when I told my midwife I wanted to discuss pain relief she was the one that had to be convinced I really wanted one. Having now had one, there is no way I would be so reluctant to wait so long again before asking for one in similar circumstances with this baby's birth.
    Last edited by LuluHB; March 29th, 2008 at 08:08 PM.

  9. #9

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    I had an epi after two hours of pushing, because my baby was malpositioned, and it was only way my Ob could manouevere him.

    From memory, it took about 15 mins to kick in, but I could still feel quite a bit of pain on my left side, so still used gas during my contractions. It wasn't topped up though as it had acheived it's purpose (Ob managed to manouevere bub without me climbing off the bed LOL) and I was obviously fairly close to delivering bub.

    I pushed for four hours, two hours before, and two after having the epi. The before part was certainly more painful, but it was no less exhausting pushing after the epi. In fact it was more difficult in some ways because I had alot less control.

    TBH, I will do everything I can NOT to have one next time. I enjoyed my labour far more before I had the epi, and I only had it out of necessity, I didn't request it for pain relief as such. I also hated having to wait for it to wear off afterwards. But each to their own, I know some people love the epi, and want one for all of their labours. I just wanted to put it out there that not everyone loves it.

  10. #10

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    i had one after being induced, waters broke 27 hrs prior to being induced, pushed for 3 hours after 8 hours of active labour, but as the epi was turned down prior to pushing after 3 hours it had completely worn off, so felt everything!!!

    you need to do whats right for you, im not against epi's, but against induction!!

  11. #11

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    My experience: I could feel the contractions and the birth canal, but that was painless (until the ruddy obs decided in birth things go UP the birth canal, but that's another story). I disliked the sensation. I had virtually painless contractions and was pushing pain-relief-free (and virtually pain-free) before I was told I "needed" the epidural... the down sides were the constant monitoring, the lack of freedom to move around, the fact that DS had turned due to the monitoring, requiring the obs to mess around... that annoyed me. And you don't need stress, people telling you what to do and what you're doing wrong, and the like in labour. I was doing everything "perfectly" (in the midwife's words) pre-epidural. I had it so I could "have a sleep" (HAHA!) but had no rest because my body REALLY wanted to push and the epidural didn't stop that.

    I'm not anti-epidural, if you want one then have one. I'm just anti-hospital and anti-anyone being around when I give birth. But I felt like that before DS was born too.

  12. #12

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    I was induced. I laboured for 7 hours before asking for any time of drugs. I had m/s throughout my labour, so the gas was no good and the pethadine did nothing. By the time I had the epidural I was 7cm dilated. Half an hour after it was inserted, I was fully engaged and started pushing. Three pushes and Nina was born. I didn't feel a thing. I had contractions coming every minute lasting 45 seconds.

  13. #13

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    I went into early labour on the Sunday night, went to the hospital and was then sent home as was only 1cm dialated. Went back into labour on the Monday night. We got to the hospital on the Tuesday morning. I asked for an epi about midday on the Tuesday as I had had no sleep since Saturday night. I was totally exhausted and was still only 3-4cm dialated. So I had the epi and some synotocin to get things going. The epi was SENSATIONAL. I totally relaxed but still didnt sleep because I was concerned DP was not comfortable enough having to sit in a hard chair!
    The epi wore off a couple of times on my left hand side and the pain was intense. So a few top ups was required. After an epi and if it wears off the pain comes back ten fold because you had not had any pain for a long time.
    Anyway my DD arrived early on the Wednesday morning by the vacuum. She was 10lb 4oz and I received 3rd degree tearing.
    I will have no problem in having an epi again if needs be.

  14. #14

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    I had an epidural with DS1 and used gas only for DS2. After I had the epidural, I had no pain at all, BUT my second birth was by far my favourite. If I had known then what I know now, I would never have had an epidural. The choice of pain relief is a very personal thing, and this is my experience (not anyone else's), but here are the reasons why I wish I hadn't had an epidural:

    - it prolonged my labour and inhibited my ability to push which caused DS to become distressed, which meant forceps were needed, which meant a tear, which meant an episiotomy, which meant stitches and weeks of pain.
    - I have had recurring haemorrhoids since that labour, and I feel that the inability to feel myself push was the main cause of that
    - I had to have a catheter which restricted my movement for 24 hours afterwards
    - Having had drugs in my body caused me to feel unwell (esp since I have low bp anyway, and that lowered it so much that I had to push lying down or I was dizzy and sick from low bp), so I was pretty immobile for the first couple days afterwards and didn't feel well
    - I know now that I was given misinformation about how much longer I would be in labour, and that the pain I was feeling was due to me lying on my back which is not a good position to be in labour. Never make a decision on pain relief while on your back, read New Active Birth, find a position which opens your pelvis and feels comfortable and try that without drug first.

    In contrast, DS2 was a 3 hr labour, with a tiny tear but I felt no pain from it afterwards, and despite having been sick with gastro for 4 days before going into labour, and being dehydrated, I felt awesome afterwards. I could get up and walk around immediately and I felt really well and able to look after my own baby and myself. Sure I felt pain during labour, but it was manageable with a good position and concentrated breathing (this is why the gas helped I think, I focused properly on my breathing). Plus, the amazing feeling of achievement and empowerment I felt from birthing the way I wanted to was the best feeling I have ever had. If I ever give birth again, I would want to have an experience like my second birth (no epidural) and not my first.

    This is of course JMO, but I hope it helps you to make a decision. I strongly recommend reading up on natural birth vs pain relief, read New Active Birth as a starting point, and know what you want ahead of time (you are in no position to make a decision when pressure is applied and you are in labour). All the best, I wish you a great birthing experience.

  15. #15

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    I had an epi for Charlie's birth but didn't for my other three kids. I agreed to an epi this time because he was in distress and they wanted to turn the drip up as high as possible to get him out quick, were monitoring him constantly and I couldn't move around as a result. But the epi made my blood pressure drop and many times, I came close to passing out. It gave me the shakes (common side effect) and it wore off while I was going to the loo so had a few full-on contractions at transition stage, which made me shake like a leaf and made me feel out of control. I also was 10 cm dilated half an hour before I started to push simply because I couldn't feel the urge to push, and when it wore off, it wore off only on one side, so had excrutiating pain on the left but nothing on the right.

    I was a nervous ex-LTer who had tried so long to have my baby that I agreed to constant monitoring out of sheer fear that something was going wrong, but in retrospect, I would have preferred to have been able to move around, manage my labour actively, and not have the epi at all. Hell, I can manage the pain - and have done before - but start to pass out or get the shakes uncontrollably was pretty awful.

  16. #16

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    Most women will have total or near total pain relief with an epidural.
    But it is a trade-off and it's important that you do what you can to educate yourself about what the implications of having one can be..because unfortunately you'll mostly only be told about some of the direct physical side effects before you're asked to consent, and told nothing about how they actually effect labour.
    A few things you probably won't be told beforehand:

    - Increased risk of c/section especially with a first baby
    A few reasons: you're flat on your back in bed, so if your baby gets in a funny position for a bit (which is not unusual) you can do absolutely diddly squat to help it to move. It's your ability to move around, change positions etc that will encourage baby into a good birthing position.

    - Increased risk of instrument use (ventouse, forceps) and increased likelihood of episiotomy.
    Basically because you can't feel what you're doing when you're pushing. Imagine trying to use your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles buried up to your breastbone in concrete. Makes it kinda hard. So more likely you'll "need help" getting the baby out.
    Again, being confined to bed usually on your back, or semireclining doesn't help here either because it reduces the available room in your pelvis...but quite alot.
    In an unmedicated birth the mother will usually feel a really powerful, overwhelming urge to push her baby out at the end. Epidurals either dull this, or squash it altogether meaning you'll need to be told when and how to push. If this seems like a bit of a weird idea, think about having someone "direct" you to do a poo - when you don't feel like you need to do one and can't feel anything. Like pushing the proverbial uphill yeah? Compare that to how easily it happens when you do it yourself based on your own urges ... Same principle

    Ok rambling here, just throwing in another viewpoint
    Research it yourself, and make your own decisions
    Last edited by Tobily; April 1st, 2008 at 12:49 PM.

  17. #17

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    With my first baby I had a completely drug free birth, she was in a posterior position and i had a very hard back labour, I was afraid of having anything that would make me feel sick on top of the back pain so continued on. I have to say it fightened me so much that in my second pregnancy I asked for a C-section. We agreed to compromise and have an epidural instead, as it turned out my waters broke and I did'nt go into labour by myself, my baby ended up in distress and a C-section was needed. 3rd baby, I laboured for 10 hours by myslef before requesting an epidural, I had read a lot about them and was fortunate to have a block where i could still move my legs, which made me feel a lot more comfortable I laboured for 3 more hours before my doc decided to break my waters which showed the baby was in distress I was 8 cm dialated and was'nt progressing, I don't conribute this to my epidural I consider my baby was to big and stuck at nearly 10 pounds. When she was delivered by c-section an hour later she had a definate groove around her head that disappeared after a few days where she had been stuck. I am pregnant with baby no 4 I am not electing to have a c-section although I have been encourged to, not only be medical persons. I am going to have another go myself and if I feel I am beginning to have trouble coping will request and epi then. I am hoping I don't need one, but am openminded about everything at this point. Certainly a block where you still have some control is preferrable. If they let it wear off in time for pushing the baby out, it could be a good option, certainly a labour where you are out of control and frightened in lots of pain is not going to help with birthing your baby, so if relief is needed I say take it.
    Good luck with all your reading and I hope you make the decision that is right for you.

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