Epidurals and decisions?!

Hi all

Just got back from my appointment with the anesthetist... it didn't go as well as I hoped and I think hubby and I have to discuss my pain relief options very seriously!

The chap was lovely which was great. He wasn't in the slightest bit horrid or negative about my size, but just realistic and honest. I was referred to him due to my high BMI - to assess my suitability for an epidural / general anesthetic in case I need an emergency c-section.

In short, he said my back is a bit podgy right in the spot where they would do an epidural so it could be difficult and take time for them to get one in. He said they would never refuse to try it and he is not saying it will be difficult or take time, but its not looking good at this stage.

Basically because of this, if I don't have an epidural early on for pain relief and I end up needing a c-section, he is going to recommend I am put to sleep under a general anesthetic - he doesn't feel they will have time to give me an epidural so I can be awake / hubby present when Angus is born. Hubby desperately doesn't want me to have a general anesthetic - he wants me to see / be awake when baby Angus is born. Also he can't be in the room if I do have to have a general anesthetic so he won't be there for Angus either!

The consultant said I could choose to have an epidural early on, as obviously I can use it for pain relief but in the event I will need an emergency c-section, they can top it up so I will be awake and hubby can be present when Angus arrives.

Of course nobody can tell if I'll need an emergency c-section can they!!!

I know my pain threshold is VERY low so I was always open and positive about having an epidural, but I have been recommended to make a decision very early on in labour about whether or not I want one. Even if I don't need an emergency c-section and haven't had the epidural early on, they might not be able to give me one in the later stages which means I have limited options on what I'd call the REAL pain relief LOL. I still stand by the fact I don't want Pethidine.

Phew! Now can someone tell me what to do?!?!

Joo xxx

[Modified by: Joo on 18 February 2009 17:52:59 ]


  • Hi honey. Just to say, I'm overweight too, size 14 and bout 2st over, at fullterm pregnant I was 13st 5 i think. I had an epidural after about 8 hours of very painful contractions and the anaesthetist had no problems putting it in. After 40 hours I needed an emergency c-section and because the epidural wasnt working (even though they topped it up), they did a spinal and that was very effective too...honestly they had no problems, I know being overweight can affect it but not in my case! Personally if I was in your shoes, my decision would be to have the epidural early on as I'd want to avoid a general if possible, BUT I also have heard many women have back issues after epidurals and don't find them very good anyway. tough call but good luck xxxx
  • hi joo,i'm waiting to see an aneathatist at the mo, but think i'm going to be told the same. My problem is that i'm not scared of needles but teriffied about an epidural, my other problem is that when i've had operations before i've had respiritory arests so know they'll not let me have a general. Which doesn't leave me a great choice but really scared of an epidural, but i guess if it's the safest option. If you think you'd like one then i'd say go with it, i know i'm not much help
  • Its such a hard decision but i think i would probably go for an epidural early on especially if you have a low pain threshold. Also you dont want to be worrying about it during labour if you decide not to have it early on. I had an epidural when after 18 hours of contractions i was 5-6cm dilated and had to have that awful drip to progress things. If i had another baby i would probably have one earlier on. It was brilliant. I could go to sleep, watch tv, chat, surf the internet and generally relax until it was time to push.

    Also they numb your back so you dont feel the needle thingy at all. I could feel when to push as they allowed the epidural to wear off slightly by the time it was time to push. I dont know why there is a stigma attached to epidurals. For anything else it is pefectly acceptable to take pain relief but apparently child birth is something we should suffer through!!! You may be surprised by how far you get before going to hospital though, i got to 5-6 cm dilated before i went unfortunately i never got past that point lol
  • I think I would go for the epidural early on. It would really suck for both of you to miss your baby being born.

    My sis was totally 100% adamant she didn't want pain relief unless it was last resort. But she ended up asking for an epidural quite early. So now I am very much open minded about the pain relief as I am a TOTAL wimp so if she couldn't handle it I don't think there is any chance I will!!! LOL!

    As K&F says - in a way if I am probably going to need it eventually anyway might as well have it earlier on than suffer!

    Having said that I am absolutely terrible with needles...hmmmmm!
  • i saw my anethetist yesterday and its been deicded that as soon as i get on the labour ward they have to ring the anethetist to come up and put in my epidural but this is for health reasons (my health) i will also be on a drip cause they can drop your blood pressure.

    alot of hospital wont let you have an epidural until your screaming in pain and by then normally its too late so if you want to have an epidural, get it done as soon as possible. remember, once the line is in, it doesnt mean you will have to use it.

    35 weeks today!
  • If I was in your position I would ask for an epidural fairly early in so you have time to find out if it is going to work or not and prepare yourself. I had an epidural but not until many hours into a 64 hour labour. I kept begging for it but they refused because I wasn't dilated enough (think i was about 4cm) and would only offer pethidine. I refused but a few hours later had to take it as i couldn't cope anymore. It worked well and completely numbed pain but was sick as it wore off but only a couple of times. Then further in I was allowed the epidural and it was the best thing ever!!! In the end baby went into distress and i wasn't dilating despite being on a drip to induce for 2 days (!!) so i had to have an emergency c-section. It wasn't as bad as i'd have thought it would be but i was desperate by that stage to get it out as i'd not slept for 4 days!!! I would definitely recommend an epidural as soon as they'll let you as it is the best thing for the pain if you're in it for the long haul and it's easy to top up if you do need a section.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

    Amy. x
  • I think it is a really hard one as you have no idea what your labour is going to be like until you are actually there!

    With my first I was pretty certain I didn't want an epidural as I didn't like the thought of not being able to feel my legs, and I have a friend who is a physio who said to use it as a last resort as she has seen several women who have long term back pain as a result of an epidural.
    I live over in Norway and they don't use petihdine out here, but again like you it wasn't something I would have gone for anyway. The hospital I gave birth at didn't have gas and air due to poor ventilation (would have meant midwife and hubby getting giggly too!) so that left me with zero options in terms of medical pain relief!

    I had accupuncture which helped a lot and stopped me feeling sick, and I listened to hypnobirthing CDs which I think helped to keep me calm. Luckily I had a straight forward labour, which was pretty quick for a first baby although I was pushing for two hours and they tried to use forceps at the end.

    Personally, if i were you I would see how I felt on the day. If you are coping ok to start off with then I would try to avoid an epidural if at all possible. Have you any reason to believe you will need an emergency c-section?

    Every labour is different which is why you are going to get lots of different views on here!

    With my next one I am having to give birth at a different hospital (due to Group B Strep) and they have gas and air so I will be giving that a go this time if i need it. xx
  • Thanks everyone

    My gut feel is that I would like to go for the early epidural but hubby has asked me to chat to the people at my antenatal class first - the tutor specifically I guess.

    There is no reason currently why I'm likely to need an emergency c-section - but I guess that's why it's called an emergency, you just don't know!

    Spoke to my family last night who are all quite supportive of it - I thought they would put me off and encourage me to manage without it. But in my head, I don't want it for pain relief - I want it so I don't have to be put to sleep in an emergency.

    Thanks for all being supportive - have to say - I was expecting most of you to just say try and cope with the pain... not sure why - I suppose I have it in my head people might be anti epidurals! LOL

    The consultant also said that all epidurals at Frimley Park are 'mobile' epidurals and they will keep the dosage low for me (if I'm coping ok with the pain) but at least it is IN me ready if I need it and they won't struggle to get it in at a crucial time.

    Joo xxx
  • I had my epidural at Frimley as you know, and it was fab!!! I could move my legs and feel when to push, and i was in control of the dosage, they give you a little button to push if you want more or you can let it wear off for the pushing stage, which is what i did - plus i was too busy pushing to remember to push the button!

    There are no prizes for enduring pain hun, and that's why i went in knowing i was going to have an epidural. it made my experience 100 time more positive and enjoyable, and i don't feel any less of a person for having had one. xx
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