Jumping in here...
I have birthed three babes in hospitals, and have had epidurals with all three. My second labor was induced and intensely painful. I was not educated about the effects of pitocin at the time, and foolishly thought I could do it without pain relief. By the time I asked for an epidural, I already felt pressure "down there". I didn't dare tell anyone about this, because the pain was so great. I got an epidural, but it never kicked in, not even postpartum. I'm not sure if the reason was that it wasn't placed well, or if I received it too late. With zero pain relief, I eventually lost consciousness, which was the best thing that could have happened to me, lol. I simply could not go on, and this gave me a break. My Dr. let me be, and after a while, brought me back around with more pitocin. The entire labor was excruciating beyond belief, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
With babies 1 and 3, I received an epidural earlier on in labor, and I had no trouble with them.
I'm expecting baby #4, and planning a homebirth this time, so no more epidurals for me!