Has anyone been refused an epidural?

(85 Posts)
bedtimeyet Wed 06-Feb-13 12:53:07

I am 38 weeks and hoping to get an epidural this time, so just want to know if most people that want one get one, and how many are told "its too early" or "its too late". Or are persuaded not to have one.

Ushy Wed 06-Feb-13 22:20:07

Dotty that is absolutely shocking. sad Did you complain?

DottyDot Wed 06-Feb-13 23:04:57

No... I'd quite like to see my notes sometime though as no-one explained what had happened to me re: my reaction to being induced - I think it must have been some kind of allergic reaction but I don't know. I also don't know what time ds was born as they didn't tell me - just about got them to let me know he was a boy as they whisked him away...

This is all nearly 9 years ago now but still feels weird when I start to think about it!

bluemintygel Wed 06-Feb-13 23:19:04

My midwife strongly recommended I have one, I didn't even ask!

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Thu 07-Feb-13 07:03:35

'OK there is a small increase in low instrumentals (i in 20) but there is debate as to whether this is to due with the epidural or just that women in more pain have more complications anyway. You are no more likely to tear with an epidural because although you might possibly have increased instrumental, you are less likely to suffer a severe tear through uncontrollable pushing. As far lengthening labour by 15 minutes, well who cares if you are not in pain?

So basically, it is down to choice. The cascade of intervention is a myth. '

I'm not convinced it's a myth. I've had three labours; two with epidural, one without.
I dn't know the figures in regard to CS as a result of epidural, but in general terms, the more you have done to you, the more you consequently have done in addition.

So, take first labour - I didn't understand the levels of pain that were possible, I mean across the spectrum, and requested an epidural about halfway through - maybe 4/5 hours into it. What I didn't know was that I'd then be strapped on my back, unable to walk around and monitored. I also didn't know it would slow things down, orthat I'd not be able to feel when I was pushing or make any attempt to try harder, thus leading to the ventouse being wielded, though it wasn' ued in the end as my mum told them not to.

And I didn't know I'd not be able to feel my legs for another 24 hours, or stand up to reach my baby when he cried, or have uncontrollable sickness as a reaction to it - leading to my bby giving up, going back to sleep and the MWs, when they did finally come (no one responded to the buzzer) telling me if he didn't feed within a couple of hours he'd be given a bottle. (he had already breastfed at birth). And the mere fact of being in hospital meaning I wasn't allowed him in my bed to encourage this - I ignored them and did it anyway, and he fed.

This is what I consider a cascade of intervention. Albeit a mild one.

Also when you say 'uncontrollable pushing' I think that's exactly what happens, normaly - I certainly was unaware I was pushing ds1 out, I couldn't feel a thing. Ds2 was unmedicated home birth and I felt my body pushing but could no way stop it. Ds3 I was able to push more but not less. It just happens.

Ushy Thu 07-Feb-13 14:30:53

Rooney The problem in UK as Viva said, is that you are sometimes strapped to a monitor if you have an epidural. NICE doesn't say that is necessary except for just the first 20 minutes to check while they install the epidural and top up.

So it is the way the NHS does epidurals that is the problem not the epidurals themselves. It annoys me because medical advances enable good standards of pain relief but no-one seems to be bothered to do it here - definitely mysogyny because I can't believe men would be treated this way.

I felt the anti pain relief attitudes that I encountered were actually abusive; It is almost as though a minority of staff do everything they can to cause problems for women with epis just so they can say 'told you so' when problems arise.

I totally agree that lying flat on your back is exactly what will cause problems but it isn't the epidural doing that - it is the staff who insist on it. In some countries where they have incredibly high epidural rates, they have lower instrumental delivery rates than we do. Also there has been a massive amount of research into epidurals and caesareans and epidurals do not cause c/s.

I've had an epi - a light one - and actually was able to give birth upright. You clearly were given a really heavy dose if your legs were 'dead' after only 4 or 5 hours. Why did they do that? It wasn't necessary.

As for the attitude of the midwives to you over BFing..that was shocking and just plain wrong. Sorry you got such rotten treatment.

I just think childbirth would be a whole lot better if we put up with a lot less.

So I am going to keep my fingers crossed for the OP that she gets her epidural and they do it properly. smile

I had one with DS1 no problem. I asked once and was given one. Obviously I was far enough along (4cm) but they put up no fight at all. It was marvellous until they let it wear off at the same time as they gave me something to speed up the contractions. As I got no gap at all in the contractions, they did give me a top up eventually but it wasn't pleasant for a while. I had to have forceps to deliver DS1 though.

With DS2 I was due to give birth in a different hospital and asked on the hospital tour about epidurals as I wanted one despite it slowing things up. Apparently they tried to avoid giving them. Looking at the statistics afterwards their CS rates were well above average and their epidural rates well below. That suggests to me that they were doing epidurals with a view to cutting you open, not using them for pain relief. Thankfully, DS2 arrived at home and I didn't have to go to that hospital as it wasn't a nice place imo and I am glad I never had to test their policy on epidurals when it came down to it.

Ushy Thu 07-Feb-13 14:45:30

Bigboobied "It was marvellous until they let it wear off at the same time as they gave me something to speed up the contractions"

That's what I mean. Isn't that just sadistic? Why on earth did they do that? That isn't supposed to happen - they are supposed to keep it in place right up until the placenta is completely delivered.

Glad you had a better experience with DS2.

I'd been pushing for over 3 hours by then. I think the contractions weren't coming fast enough so fine to speed them up but it was unfortunate they decided not to top up the epi when that ran out too and that the contractions got out of hand.

Despite having had a MW all day, it was at that point they all made themselves scarce going to get a doctor and whatnot and I was left with a constant contraction (which I thought I might have imagined except I met somebody else who had the same recently) and nobody to administer any more epidural. They did try to tell me to just go with it but I don't think they realised I was getting no respite at all from the contraction and it was at that point I refused to actively push so they topped me up. blush

I was being a bit bolshy I suppose but actually I couldn't catch a breath to push with by then. It was an 'interesting' half hour to say the least.

When I met her for the first time, the HV said I had had a tough time and I didn't know why she thought that. I had avoided a CS after all. I assumed that labour was going to be painful and hard work and it was! With hindsight though, it was all a bit of a shambles at the end. I don't know if I would call it sadistic as such - they weren't deliberately trying to harm me - they just wanted the baby out as by then I'd been pushing for so long - 4 hours in total by the time DS was born. Mismanaged would probably be more appropriate although I do think they might have forgotten about what the drugs were doing to me when they were panicking about DS1.

DS2 depsite no pain relief and a surprise appearance was a walk in the park and I was on a high for weeks afterwards. smile

Ushy Thu 07-Feb-13 15:39:58

I think you were very brave to have DS2 after that - glad it all worked out well though. smile

galwaygirl Thu 07-Feb-13 15:54:28

Just on the epidural slowing things down - I had the opposite experience and dilated way faster after I got one. Personally I think it's because I could finally relax after being denied much needed pain relief for the previous 6 hours.

RugBugs Thu 07-Feb-13 16:07:32

I was told there 'would be no chance of an epidural today as we're too busy' as soon as I was wheeled down from ante-natal ward.
To be fair they were, I was meant to be on the consultant led part with monitoring but there wasn't room so I was on the midwife led bit.

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Thu 07-Feb-13 16:09:50

Ushy, thankyou so much for your kind reply. Yes it was a very heavy dose with ds1 - luckily with ds2 it was very light and I could still feel my legs enough to stand up, etc. Mind you ds1 was born nearly 10 years ago so maybe things have changed.

MrsMcEnroe Thu 07-Feb-13 16:19:25

I was refused an epidural as the delivery suite was too busy and there was no anaesthetist free to administer it - it was all over the local paper the next day, labouring women were being sent 50 miles away to go birth as the local hospital was so busy ...

bedtimeyet Thu 07-Feb-13 19:39:30

Most of your experiences sound shocking, it just seems like the pain of women in labour isn't given much consideration or sympathy when it's the most painful thing to go through, and letting it wear off for the most painful part just sounds cruel.
I'll be asking for an epidural then as soon as I walk in, I wouldn't want to risk seeing if I can manage without and then being told I can't have one if it gets too much.

I'll let you know if I get one or not in a couple of weeks.

LadyKinbote Thu 07-Feb-13 20:32:45

Feeling bad now for not being more reassuring! Just go in determined and I'm sure you'll be fine smile

Loislane78 Fri 08-Feb-13 06:50:07

I asked and got one. Some reluctance (for other medical reasons for me) and also the MW thought I was coping well. Turned out DD was bad position so insisting on epidural at 10 cm was the right thing do MW told me during 2 hours of pushing!

You need your birth partner to advocate for you. I had my 'I need an epidural' face on so DP started chipping in as well.

Locketjuice Fri 08-Feb-13 07:53:47

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1069509/Pregnant-women-denied-pain-relieving-epidurals-staff-shortages-NHS-hospital.html#axzz2KIAJJnEv

Loislane78 Fri 08-Feb-13 11:02:53

And just to add I was lucky that i didn't have any forceps/ventouse after the epi due to amazeballs MW who was insistent with the right positioning I could push DD out and again, luckily DDs heartrate was fine so ii was allowed to carry on or else it would have resulted in nasty intervention.

So therefore (for me at leastsmile
- requested epidural at 10cm and got one
- baby in poor position but delivered with no intervention

= you just can't tell

Perriwinkle Fri 08-Feb-13 17:01:28

I was refused an epidural due to staff shortages. I was mortified because I'd clearly stated on my so-called "birth plan" (what a joke that was!) that it was the only sort of pain relief I wanted.

Anyway, I was told in no uncertain terms that I couldn't have one until the woman who already had one in place in the room along the corridor had delivered her baby because there was simply not enough staff to monitor me.

I was, therefore, left in agonies of pain and scared to death with no other alternative option for pain relief that I was comfortable with. Thankfully, soon after being told this they decided to send me for a c-section as my baby's heartrate was dipping badly and they had to get him out in a hurry.

That news was sweet music to my ears and certainly more than made up for being refused an epidural.

I'd have preferred an elective c-section all along but an emergency one with a spinal was still preferable to a vaginal birth with an epidural.

Afterwards, when on the post natal ward, midwives urged me to write a letter of complaint about the whole sorry episode to highlight staff shortages and the conditions they're expected to work under. I did this but not sure it made a difference. This was almost 13 years ago now and I gather it's still a common occurance for women to be refused on these grounds at the same hospital.

Ushy Fri 08-Feb-13 18:40:06

So sorry to hear about such awful treatment. sad

Where did this happen?

Chunderella Sat 09-Feb-13 12:17:05

That's very interesting Pickled. I was denied one as I was 9cm by the time an anaesthetist got to me, three hours after I had initially asked for an epidural. Soon after, at 10cm, I had to have syntocin as contractions stalled. DD was also back to back so this was loads of shits and giggles. Ended up with ventouse. I'm working up to making a complaint about having been left so long, because I went through an astonishing amount of pain due with no effective pain relief. Gas and air did sod all and the pudendal block was only right at the end.

And yes, the 'cascade of interventions' is far from universally accepted. The plural of anecdote is not data, but while we're on the subject, frankly I wonder if my own birth would've resulted in fewer interventions if I'd been able to have some proper pain relief.

sky44 Sat 09-Feb-13 18:36:48

Chunderella - if you do complain then it would be interesting to find out what their reason was for refusing an epidural at 9cm, especially if it was your first baby, as there was potentially still at least an hour or two left - the time to get to 10cm and the pushing stage.

Loislane78 Sat 09-Feb-13 20:17:37

chunderella defo complain cos as I said in my post I got one at 10cm. My labour also slowed and I went on the drip so I can only imagine what you went through as I still felt 'pain'.

Chunderella Sat 09-Feb-13 22:24:54

Thanks ladies. Yes I am complaining, I wrote the letter today after reading this in fact. I had been thinking I'd only complain about the delay rather than the clinical decision itself, but might just ask for an explanation. If there were good medical reasons, fair enough. After all DD and I both got through it all in one piece. I'm grateful for that!

Lois it was extremely painful but honestly the worst part was being left for so long beforehand. At least during the delivery itself, things were happening and I knew there was the ventouse option if needed. By the way, any first timers reading this, please don't be scared by it. Yes it was bad, but I'm a massive wuss, definitely lower pain threshold than average, and I got through it. You do it because you have to and if it happens to you, you'll come out the other side. You just shouldn't have to if you don't want to!

Perriwinkle Sun 10-Feb-13 20:05:08

When I wrote a letter of complaint, I complained not only about the fact that I'd been refused an epidural but the fact that I'd been left to labour between 4.30pm and 10.00pm on the post natal ward if you please, where people were there visiting new mothers! This was apparently due to the lack of rooms on the labour ward. This I considered to be intolerable because my dignity was simply not properly respected. A thin curtain that kept flapping open was all that I had to maintain my dignity from onlookers, goodness knows what they must have thought about the noises I was making!!

I've just looked out the letter that I recieved in response from the Director of Midwifery and and all it says about my being left to labour on the post natal ward is "I very much regret that you felt so uncomfortable during this time on the ward prior to returning to the labour ward".

All that was said regarding the refusal of the epidural was that the midwife looking after me was aware of my request for epidural pain relief but the labour ward was very busy and another woman needed an epidural first because of complications in her labour. Then it goes on to say "the demand for epidural analgesia has grown dramatically over the past year and the midwife in charge of the labour ward has the difficult task of balancing the needs of all the women in labour whilst maintaining a safe service"." It also goes on about the need for staff from the labour ward to be available to staff the obstetric theatre at all times in cases of emergency. Finally, she says that she ^"very much regrets that I was unable to have an epidural when I requested it" but assures me that she ^"will be closely monitoring demand for this form of pain relief as well as the workload on the unit in order to demonstrate the need for further increases in funding".

She thanked me for my feedback added a few more platitudes and that was that!

So all in all, I'd say it's really not worth complaining but it might help you to feel that you got a few things off your chest. My baby was born in 2000 and thinking about the way things went that day and the way I was looked after still makes me both sad and cross, as does reading that letter from the Director of Midwifery!

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