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Epidural Expectations

by Sally (follow)
Pregnancy (31)      Birth (2)     

Going without pain relief when giving birth was a test of epi-durance.

The birth of my first child 3 years ago went a little quicker than expected. My baby was born within 4 hours of my first contraction, and because it was so rushed, there was no time for an epidural.

I was not pleased about this.

I really wanted some blissful pain relief.

Gas did nothing for me. It just made me dizzy.

But a quick labour meant that I was admitted to the hospital from the very first sign of any labour with my second pregnancy, and I had my epidural administered before my labour pains had even really started.

I'd started planning for an epidural the moment I fell pregnant with my second child. I made a point at just about every appointment with the midwives to stress how quickly my first labour was, and how passionate I was about getting an epidural this time. Some mums prefer to give birth without pain relief. But I really wanted it.

So when the angel anaesthesiologist came in with the glorious needle, I was very excited. Getting the epidural actually made me feel so faint, that I nearly passed out. I was extremely nauseous but confident that it would be worth it. I thought I would have pain relief right through from the early contractions to the pushing stage, pressing a button whenever I needed a top-up.

My husband was really happy for me. He was probably also really happy for his hand, ears and his mental health.

Fast forward only an hour or so after getting the epidural, the contractions got intense. And I felt every last one just as I had with my first labour when there was no epidural.

I was very confused. Was I not pressing the green button correctly? Surely the epidural would kick in soon before it was time to push?

I'm extremely polite by nature, but I complained loudly to the midwife that something was wrong with the pain relief. She told me that the dosage that I'd been given probably just wasn't enough. But by the time we realised that it wasn't working, it was simply too late to increase the dosage. It was nearly time to push.

Sometimes an epidural is timed to wear off before pushing to avoid tearing. But in my case it was simply a mistake was made, and I was going to once again feel every last push and contraction, after already having nearly passed out from the ineffective epidural.

My husband felt the full effect of my frustration, as I yelled at him profusely and squeezed his hand so hard I almost broke 3 of his fingers.

But once again I had a perfectly healthy and scrumptious little baby boy. Quick labours meant that I was able to hold both my beautiful baby boys in my arms relatively quickly.

According to Healthline, an estimated 12 per cent of epidurals don’t work as they’re supposed to. The cause is usually the positioning of the needle when it is given.

It's not just me. Another mum I know was rushed into an emergency Caesarean for her first baby to be delivered, and of course she needed an epidural. The doctors were standing there ready to go, but the anaesthesiologist couldn't tell them to start - because she could still feel everything. She had to be given a general anaesthesia instead so they could deliver her baby quickly.

But in my scenario, there was no back up pain relief - unless I wanted to try gas again!

I was very annoyed that the epidural didn't work. I still am, even 10 months on. But apparently this does happen.

Maybe next time I will get the pain relief I always planned...if there ever is a next time!


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