What? I can’t have an epidural?

January 12, 2012 in Mums tips


Image by ammateo - Creative Commons

One Born Every Minute has returned to Channel 4 and last night’s episode was all about pain. The lovely people at Netmums have invited bloggers to share their stories, so here’s Lauren L’s…

I am officially not good with pain. I had a long labour with my first child and ended up with an epidural and a lovely baby girl.

Second time round I practically reversed in to the delivery suite and presented my spinal cord with an X marking the spot – just so it was clear to one and all that I wanted another epidural.

Third time – 5 months ago – I came to understand the meaning of ‘when things don’t go to plan’.

One of the reasons I wasn’t put off having a third child was that my second experience of labour, giving birth to my son, was so overwhelmingly positive (probably due to the lovely numbing effects of drugs), I felt I’d be up for doing it all again, with baby number 3.

I was approaching 2 weeks overdue with my third pregnancy and decided enough was enough, it was time to see if we could help baby along with an induction. I checked in to hospital and was told I wouldn’t be leaving until I had given birth to my baby. I was given a new pessary called propess, which is now available to kick start labour. Propess releases progesterone slowly and regularly over a 24 hour period, which is meant to bring on the start of labour.

Well, two pessaries and 36 hours later, there was still no sign of labour beginning.

That evening, the consultant registrar came on to the ward and felt my tummy. She was concerned that baby might be lying back to back. She ushered me in to the delivery suite where she gave me a scan and said, much to my relief, that baby was lying a little bit strangely but not back to back.

Then I experienced the first pain I had felt for a long time. She gave me the mother of all membrane sweeps which in the past, when the midwives had done the same, had not hurt more than your average smear. It was not pleasant, but it must have done something as that pain was a precursor of what was to come during the following couple of hours.

My husband was sent home because I was only 1 cm dilated and the consultant said it was unlikely anything was going to happen imminently. We said goodnight, and no sooner had he left the ward, I felt my first contraction. The good thing about going into labour third time round is you know when it is happening. It’s a sort of unwelcome familiarity.

I was timing my contractions which were uncomfortable and within 20 minutes I was contracting 3 times in 10 minutes and the pain was increasing.

I hobbled up to the midwives station and stated that I had gone in to labour and was in a lot of pain. They looked at me, smiled, gave me two headache pills, and told me to have a bath. Hmmm, not the reaction I was hoping for. Surely they could offer me some hardcore drugs to relieve this pain? Didn’t they know what I was going through? I think I uttered something about the fact I would definitely be in need of an epidural as I really wasn’t very good with soreness of any kind.

By this time, I think I was in full on active labour – only 30 minutes after it had started. The midwives called my husband and told him that if he wanted to see this baby being born he would have to return soon. He downed his beer and headed back to the hospital.

By this point I was in the bath. The bath brought some welcome relief to the piercing feelings across my abdomen. The midwife was with me in the room. Because I have a very low pain threshold (have I mentioned that yet?) I reiterated the fact that I really did want an epidural. I’d had two before for my other labours and in my opinion they are truly amazing. She said she would have to examine me to see how far dilated I was before she could agree to pain relief.

Eventually I agreed to get out of the bath, but only because I was clinging to the promise of some drugs. I edged back to my bed on my ward and writhed around in absolute agony. I was telling all the staff that I had never had pain like this in labour before and that baby must be lying back to back.

The reality was I had never experienced this stage of labour without the help of drugs before.

The midwife examined me and told me I was 9cm dilated and that it was too late to have an epidural. What?! This could not be happening! Mind you, I couldn’t stay still in any case, so they wouldn’t have been able to get a needle into my back.

I said I wanted to push. I was desperate to push. But I was still on the labour ward. I was immediately rushed along the corridor towards the central delivery suite, on my ward bed on wheels, and at the same time trying to push the baby out. Pushing a baby out on the move is an interesting experience. And fortunately for me, it was a less painful experience than the pain I had been enduring during the transition phase.

Thankfully, baby wasn’t born in the corridors – we made it to a delivery room. The midwife said she wanted to transfer me onto the delivery bed. I was in so much discomfort I couldn’t bear to move or be moved, but somehow, between my urges to push, they managed to get me on to the bed in that room.

After two more pushes, my beautiful, wonderful baby girl was born weighing 7lb on the dot.

I had just given birth with only the help of a couple of paracetemol and my husband’s comforting hands. I found it hilarious that I hadn’t even had the chance to puff on a bit of gas and air. Not exactly what I had planned. But I did it. I still think I have a pathetically low pain threshold. But I’ve unintentionally proved to myself that if the worst comes to the worst, I can get through it. No gas and air, no pethidine, no tens, no epidural. It’s just a pity I worked out I could actually do it all by myself on my third and final labour. Because I am absolutely not going to go through that again!