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Epidural Experiences
~ A Message Board Archive

For those of you who had an epidural during labor . . .

"Women who receive epidural anesthesia early in labor are no more likely to undergo a caesarean-section delivery than women who receive systemic narcotics for initial pain and do not receive an epidural until later in labor, according to a study published in the Feb. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine." Click here to read Kaisernetwork.org Daily Reproductive Health Report on the study.

At what point did you receive the epidural? Did you feel you had it soon enough, too soon, or at the perfect time? Did you end up delivering vaginally or via c-section?

Share your experiences with us!

From lilpea ~ I received an epidural around 10:00 p.m. after 14 hours of progressively painful back labor. I was only dilated to 4 cm at the time, but really suffering. I begged for it. I spent the next 8 hours in an out of it - coupled with shaking, the chills, throwing up, and eventually a fever of 104.3. I had several epi refreshers and did manage to get to 9 cm dilated before the fever (I was also given pitocin sometime in the wee hours). My daughter just couldn't get into position - she was face up and stuck. My regular OB came in just before 8:00 a.m. and ordered me into the surgery (I was originally scheduled to be induced that morning which is why she was there).

"Did you feel you had it soon enough, too soon, or at the perfect time?" It is really hard to say. If I had been encouraged to move around more, my daughter may have turned into proper position - maybe not. I had been laboring for 14 hours before the epidural and she didn't move, but then again, I didn't know she wasn't in position (although the back labor should have clued someone in). All I know is that after the epidural was done I couldn't move so we were limited in what could be done to turn her. Plus, the overnight OB was a hack. (He even apologized to me the next day for screwing everything up.)

I ended up with a c-section after 24 hours of labor.

From hedra ~ I received an epidural at 1 cm, but that was after 66 hours of labor with no progress. It was about the right time, for me - I was exhausted, and was desperate for sleep. I didn't need it for pain, thank heavens! (Labor was tiring, but deep relaxation was enough to get me through it easily.) However, it did appear to cause heart instability in my son (possibly due to circulatory changes, since his heart stabilized as long as someone was doing vigorous massage on my legs), so I was glad we didn't use it earlier. We'd used up the other options, and while both Gabe and I were doing okay, I really needed the rest.

I delivered vaginally - 14 hours later! I had the epidural for 12 hours, then pushed for two (only 30 minutes effective pushing, as I was so numb from the multiple boluses of meds, it took a while to wear off). I don't think it speeded things up much at all - being able to sleep on my side appears to have caused my son to turn - it turned out he was slightly malpositioned, and turning onto my side pushed him into position - from then on, it was a clinically-perfect 1 cm per hour progress (after the first two hours on the epidural, anyway).

From Julie 3/12 ~ At what point did you receive the epidural? Cameron: I had been in labor for 16 hours and was dilated to 7. I had him vaginally 1 hour later. Gabrielle: I had been in labor for a little over 8 hours, and had just had the catheter inserted into my back when I started feeling the need to push. They stopped the epidural process and I had her within 20 minutes, so I did not actually receive an epidural with her.

Did you feel you had it soon enough, too soon, or at the perfect time? Obviously we were too late when I had Gabby, and I think I got it too late with Cameron as well: I had actually requested it about an hour previously, and had to wait while they had a problem with another woman's epidural. When I was ready to push I was still so numb that I had a really hard time feeling what I was doing, and ended up with a significant tear. I delivered both vaginally.

From Ali ~ I requested the epidural after 12 hours of labor when my water broke naturally. It took them at least two hours to get to me though, so I may have progressed further than 4 cm. I wish they had been able to give it to me as soon as I asked for it. My contractions got MUCH more productive immediately after my water broke. I did get nauseous right after I got the epidural.

I did have a a vaginal delivery. NOTE my epidural favored my right side. Once or twice after I got the epidural, I had to call for the anesthesiologist to see if he couldn't help to even out the pain relief. He upped my dosage the first time and the second time I was about fully dilated so there was nothing he could do for me. He suggested that I lay on on my left side to let gravity help the medication work.

From JulieD ~ My son was unable to get into a good birth-position because of his cerebral palsy (which occured prior to birth) and so I stalled at 7 cm for over 12 hours - after a very long, difficult labor we transfered from our homebirth to the hospital for pain medicine and I was still 7 cm. It was at a good time for me. I was dehydrated and exhausted at that point so it gave me a chance to rest and we avoided a c-section. When my muscles relaxed with the epidural, my son could maneuver into a good position and I continued to dilate. We did have lasting effects from the epidural (about 3 months) so in the future (if possible), I would employ a doula vs. opting for the epidural.

From Jelly-Anne ~ I was induced with Brooklyn. I had the epidural after only 3 hours of labor. I was about 3 cm. It was the perfect time FOR ME. Although I know some of the nurses were annoyed that I had it that soon. It did slow my labor down. But my thought was that as long as the baby was fine, I didn't mind that labor took longer as long as it wasn't as excruciating as my first one. I had Brooklyn vaginally about 8 hours after the epidural. She may very well have been born sooner if I hadn't gotten it, but no regrets. I actually got to enjoy giving birth to her since I wasn't concentrating so much on the pain.

From Paula ~ I was 7cm dilated, having transitional contractions and needing to push when the doctor was starting the epidural. I could have gotten it sooner when I initially asked for it. However, I did not have a birth plan and the doctor hadn't arrived yet so there were no orders in the chart. I wasn't thinking rationally and everyone (including me) expected labor to last much longer. Regular labor had been relatively easy, but transition was very painful and I could not imagine 8 more hours of that pain. My husband and I had guess-timated that my daughter would be born around 8am. I was in a lot of pain at 12:30am. I just wasn't expecting it to happen so fast. I delivered vaginally. It slowed my labor up, but was light enough where I could tell when I needed to push. My L&D was approximately 5 hours from my water breaking.

From Aimee ~ With my first child I received my epidural at 4 cm. I ended up delivering vaginally about 5 hours later (though I was fully dilated within 2 hours of receiving the epidural). With my second child I received my epidural at about 5 - 6 cm and was fully dilated an hour later. Both times my labor seemed to speed up after receiving the epidural. In both situations I felt that I received the epidural at just the right time.

From Tami C ~ I got the epidural after about 10 hours of hard labor. I only minimally recall agreeing to it, because the pain I was in was so exhausting. I know I was losing all focus on the world around me, and none of the breathing exercises were enough. My husband and mother both knew I needed the help. I think it was a good time to get it, because I know that nothing we could have done would have changed the outcome - an almost 9 pound boy, born via c-section. I know in my heart that we tried everything we could to avoid surgery. But after 9 more hours of almost non-stop, every 90 seconds contractions, I was still only at 7cm and could not deliver vaginally. There came a point when the baby started showing signs of distress, and it was time to make the decision.

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