Why would it hurt to get an epidural? - Mothering Forums
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Birth and Beyond > Why would it hurt to get an epidural?
minkajane's Avatar minkajane 12:11 PM 10-03-2007
I've heard several times that the epidural is the most painful part of labor. I had a spinal with DS (C-section) and it didn't hurt at all. There was a tiny little sting as the doc gave me a local, then I didn't even feel him put the spinal in. I know I was in labor the night before, but I wasn't in any pain at the time. Is it just that they have to stay curled over? Even then, how long does it take? Mine took all of 3 minutes. So even if I was having contractions and had to stay curled over, 3 minutes is no big deal, right?

I'm confused...

meisterfrau's Avatar meisterfrau 12:16 PM 10-03-2007
Hmm. Thinking back, I don't remember there being any local before they put in the epidural. Maybe not everyone gets that, and that's the difference.

I had an epidural for my C-section, and it was painful for me. In fact, it really messed me up mentally, and, I think, set me up for a lot of the problems I had later. I was told that the epidural would not hurt, and when it did, A LOT, my confidence was totally shaken. I was terrified after that, and didn't believe anything they told me. I was panicky the whole time, and I think it goes back to the worse-than-expected epidural.
turtlewomyn's Avatar turtlewomyn 12:24 PM 10-03-2007
Hmmmm. I have never heard that. I did not want an epidural because having part of my body numb (even when I have a mole removed or a skin biopsy) makes me feel ill.
Of course, I ended up getting coerced into an unnecessarian by my midwife and her OB for "big baby". My c-section was two years ago today.
I ended up with a spinal, and I don't remember it being particularily unpleasant going in, a pinch and burn. I remember the catheter going in as being horribly unpleasant (then I had to walk to the OR holding my bag of my pee like a purse, how humiliating). The spinal entering was annoying as they had the student anesthesiologist doing it, and it took her several times so I felt the pinch and burn over and over again, and the lean anesthesiologist was giving her directions in Spanish. I can speak Spanish, so I didn't like that at all, I thought she was going to screw up and paralyze me. Finally the kind nurse holding my shoulders asked me "Do you speak Spanish?" and I said "Yes, I wondered if they were speaking in Spanish so that I couldn't understand them." At that point the lead anesthesiologist took over and got it right in. Then the numbness came and I started to panic. At that point no one was paying attention to me or caring though, I kept saying "I can't feel my legs (to which they replied "Good!") and "I can't do this!" which they ignored.
I will say that the spinal headache I got the next day felt like the worst migraine I had ever gotten in my entire life. That was horrible!!!
Sheal's Avatar Sheal 12:37 PM 10-03-2007
It doesn't hurt as much as the mind makes it out to be. It does however cause problems (back wise) for some people like myself (scoliosis, I had the spinal). If not careful, you can end up with what's called a spinal headache (I had it, I think Epi is the same right?)

It's a massive headaches caused by blood seepage into the spinal fluid if the catheter isn't placed right or slips.
midwestmeg's Avatar midwestmeg 12:48 PM 10-03-2007
Are you kidding?!! A needle in my spinal canal?! NO THANKS! Gives me the creepies just thinking about it. The real 'pain' is the complications it can cause during labor, delivery and afterwards for both mom and baby. I'm glad you had a good experience, but not everyone has.

But, I am not in the C-section boat.
Sheal's Avatar Sheal 12:50 PM 10-03-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmeg View Post
Are you kidding?!! A needle in my spinal canal?! NO THANKS! Gives me the creepies just thinking about it. The real 'pain' is the complications it can cause during labor, delivery and afterwards for both mom and baby. I'm glad you had a good experience, but not everyone has.

But, I am not in the C-section boat.
Take care on the perceived tone of your post please. My two c\s were not elective or wanted. Mine were emergency ones. I felt a little defensive about your post but maybe I am perceiving the tone in the wrong light?
Amylcd's Avatar Amylcd 12:56 PM 10-03-2007
The spinal was the worst part of my csections. I definitely did not get anything to numb it first.
minkajane's Avatar minkajane 12:56 PM 10-03-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmeg View Post
Are you kidding?!! A needle in my spinal canal?! NO THANKS! Gives me the creepies just thinking about it. The real 'pain' is the complications it can cause during labor, delivery and afterwards for both mom and baby. I'm glad you had a good experience, but not everyone has.

But, I am not in the C-section boat.
I'm not asking about complications. I'm not even pregnant and I'm planning UC births for future kids, so I won't be getting one. I was just asking about why it would hurt. Snark is not necessary.
kittywitty's Avatar kittywitty 01:00 PM 10-03-2007
My intrathecal was HORRIBLE. They didn't use a local, and the pain of having it inserted was more unbearable than my pit-induced labor. They also missed 3 times, causing pain down my leg and subsequent chronic severe back pain.
rainbowmoon's Avatar rainbowmoon 01:03 PM 10-03-2007
mine never hurt a bit. the first one I was in the throes of horrendous back labor and would have welcomed anything! The second time I had just given birth. they gave me an epi before D&C (I had placenta acreta) right after my natural VBAC
rainbowmoon's Avatar rainbowmoon 01:04 PM 10-03-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by minkajane View Post
I'm not asking about complications. I'm not even pregnant and I'm planning UC births for future kids, so I won't be getting one. I was just asking about why it would hurt. Snark is not necessary.
never say never. I too, thought I'd have UC births pre kids.
rainbowmoon's Avatar rainbowmoon 01:07 PM 10-03-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by midwestmeg View Post
Are you kidding?!! A needle in my spinal canal?! NO THANKS! Gives me the creepies just thinking about it. The real 'pain' is the complications it can cause during labor, delivery and afterwards for both mom and baby. I'm glad you had a good experience, but not everyone has.

But, I am not in the C-section boat.

I too felt VERY self riteous just like this before my c/s. I am kind of glad it happened now, if only for the fact that I am not walking around anymore acting/thinking like this!
georgia's Avatar georgia 01:18 PM 10-03-2007
Hi, everyone In an effort to stay within the MDC User Agreement, let's focus on the original post and avoid personally directed comments.

Thanks
wombatclay's Avatar wombatclay 01:26 PM 10-03-2007
Hmmmm... I had two spinals during my first birth. The first one did hurt but I don't think it was the procedure as much as everything around it. They used a local numbing agent and the spinal was placed quickly but I was having horrible back labor and the seated/curled over position was terrible...and I had two contractions during the placement. Also the emotional element ("I failed", "I don't want this", "I don't know what is happening") on top of the stress/fear of the moment made it feel worse, if that makes sense? It wasn't what I wanted or expected, I didn't know what it would feel like, I was scared stiff by the thought of having a needle in my spine, etc!

The second spinal (~4 hrs later, placed in the OR prior to the c/s) was again a "pinch/burn" sensation but since I knew what to expect it wasn't as stressful. And I didn't have a contraction during the placement so that helped.

I think that just like anything, the stress/fear/tension/focus/expectation element can make a spinal or epi "feel" different to different people. And the skill of the person placing it has a lot to do with it too.
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 02:54 PM 10-03-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by minkajane View Post
I'm not asking about complications. I'm not even pregnant and I'm planning UC births for future kids, so I won't be getting one. I was just asking about why it would hurt. Snark is not necessary.
I've never had an epi, but both my spinals hurt going in. I wouldn't say they were the worst part of the c-sections, but I really hated them. Mind you, one of the reasons I hate surgery so much is that anesthetic is necessary, and I hate numbness more than I hate pain...

My sister had an epi with her first, and she loved it. However, she also had a very severe backache in that general area for about two weeks after my nephew was born.

ETA: I just remembered that right after my spinal was put in - both times - I got this weird stabbing pain on the right side...about where my kidneys are, I guess. It didn't last long, as I went numb, but it hurt a lot.
loraxc's Avatar loraxc 02:55 PM 10-03-2007
I had an epidural after 26 hours of back labor, and it was like a mosquito bite compared to the labor pain. However, my DH says that was the worst part of the labor for him! (Epis freak him out.)
Jenlaana's Avatar Jenlaana 03:04 PM 10-03-2007
I had a spinal... they did the surface needle numbing thing first which kind of hurt, but honestly the large gage IV needle that was put into the back of my hand "just in case" by a nurse hurt WAY more than the anesthesiologist doing a spinal.

I would not have one unless there was no way around it, because I know too much about the side effects/chain of interventions not to be terrified, which I know would make it a hundred times more painful than necessary. But to each their own of course. Pain I can handle, but pain + fear I cannot, and I have a huge huge huge white coat anxiety problem.
rainbowmoon's Avatar rainbowmoon 03:08 PM 10-03-2007
oh I had to come back and talk about a different intervention I almost forgot about that I had given to me by the mw's! sterile water blocks! those hurt WAY worse than the epi!!!! seriously. :
Marilyn82's Avatar Marilyn82 03:32 PM 10-03-2007
my guess is that it depends a bit on the anesthesiologist/circumstances etc. I personally had a spinal with my c/s and while I wouldn't say it was painful per se, it was entirely WEIRD and uncomfortable Anyway I have had clients get an epidural and be screaming the whole time with blood just running down their backs (sorry to be graphic), and I have had clients be completely fine. Epidurals are kind of tricky to place because they go into a 'potential' space where two membranes lay together like two sheets in a ream of paper, they make a space here to administer the medication which is actually a local anesthetic. Also with an epidural, a catheter is placed for continuous administration of the medication. A spinal on the other hand is actually much easier to place. A spinal goes through both of those membranes, rather than having to find the tricky spot between the two. Also, a spinal is one dose of medication, so a catheter is not placed. So even though they are places in the same location, the procedures are actually quite different. At least, this is the way I understand it
sweetpeasmom's Avatar sweetpeasmom 03:38 PM 10-03-2007
Well for me the reaction I got from the epidural was a pain, i'd rather have dealt with the contractions than the itching I got from it. That was totally unbearable and made me miserable. Then I think them taking off the tape was the absolute worst! I actually screamed when they did that, I never screamed during a contraction, lol.
PreggieUBA2C's Avatar PreggieUBA2C 03:59 PM 10-03-2007
I had a spinal before each of my c/s. The first one took five tries before it 'took' and severe convulsions followed each attempt. I had pain searing through parts of my body I had never even felt before, matts in my hair that had to be torn out later, and I had to be sedated as well to deal with how much my body would have continued to move without it during the c/s.

My second spinal went in first try and no convulsions (imagine how frightened I was though since nobody could explain to me what happened the first time), BUT this time, it went all the way up to the top of my throat, my heartrate dropped to 38 bpm and stayed there for two hours while I was on constant watch (as in two nurses had to be touching my body at all times, standing there watching the monitors) and two floors away from my new babe. No explanation, again. It was the most horrible experience of my whole life (and I've had more horrible experiences than most...)

I now know that I was likely experiencing adrenal crisis, but since it was previously undiagnosed, I didn't know the true risk of having the surgeries and the drs didn't consider it since I was 'too young' to have such a condition (again, many horrible experiences and pts contribute to adrenal crisis onset...). I didn't have any lasting pain in my spine though even after I recovered physically, although the emotional and mental recovery is ongoing from both experiences...
water's Avatar water 04:17 PM 10-03-2007
I had an epidural after 35 hours of screaming unbearable back labour, so at that point you could have literally stabbed me with a knife and I would not have felt it. It didn't hurt at all compared to the pain I was in.

I have heard that it is quite painful though, if you get one and are not already in agony...
AlexisT's Avatar AlexisT 04:41 PM 10-03-2007
I had an epidural for my CS. It didn't hurt. I had been looked at by the consultant anaesthetist earlier in pregnancy (the OB asked if I was going to want an epidural, I said I didn't know, and she looked at my back and referred me to the anaesthetist), so there was a note in my records saying I'd be "difficult" and that an experienced anaesthetist should do it. He wanted to do a CSE (combined spinal-epidural) but couldn't get the spinal needle in, so just had the epidural (since they had the 20 minutes to wait, it was preferable). It was uncomfortable, but not painful. I didn't have any side effects.

If for some reason you do need an epidural have them cath you AFTER it's in, so you don't feel it. Sometimes they do it before which can be unpleasant!
DoomaYula's Avatar DoomaYula 04:54 PM 10-03-2007
It hurt to have to curl up into a ball, while having ctx, and have a needle put in my spine, yeah. And then I had a hot spot or a window, and all the pain went right to that spot, and then for months afterwards I had back pain in the spot where I'd had my epi placed.

So, yeah, it hurts. Maybe if you're having excrutiating labor it's not painful compared to that, but I don't recall it fondly and I didn't get one with subsequent labors.
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 06:25 PM 10-03-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetpeasmom View Post
Well for me the reaction I got from the epidural was a pain, i'd rather have dealt with the contractions than the itching I got from it. That was totally unbearable and made me miserable.
I didn't itch during my section, but the itching from the painkiller that was added to my spinal made me literally want to kill myself. I didn't count that, because it was afterwards. I foolishly agreed to the morphine with my first scheduled repeat...and the guy put it in without asking the second time!
Mama Poot's Avatar Mama Poot 06:59 PM 10-03-2007
I was wonked out on demerol when they administered mine in my first birth, but that needle still hurt going in- and guess what? It was suffering in vain because that epi didn't work! Instead it numbed half of my back and all the labor was forced onto the not-numb side, making the pain a million times worse. Yeah, epidurals HURT!
bri276's Avatar bri276 07:31 PM 10-03-2007
like most medical procedures it probably is a combination of your personal pain tolerance level, the skill of the practitioner, and a bit of luck. mine felt like a bee sting and came in the middle of a strong pit contraction. it wasn't what I would call comfy.
Korimomto2's Avatar Korimomto2 08:03 PM 10-03-2007
I don't remember the epi itself being painful (had it with my first, and then NOT my second) but the complications from it were horrible and lasting. I still have problems today (and this was almost three years ago).
BensMamacita's Avatar BensMamacita 09:05 PM 10-03-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenlaana View Post
I had a spinal... they did the surface needle numbing thing first which kind of hurt, but honestly the large gage IV needle that was put into the back of my hand "just in case" by a nurse hurt WAY more than the anesthesiologist doing a spinal.
I was going to post this as well. The IV hurt me very badly. Also, I was quite itchy after my c/s, so the nurse put benadryl in my IV and it BURNED. Ouch. I could feel it go into my hand and up my arm. What really made me mad about that was I didn't even consent to it. I kept scratching my face and the nurse just said, "oh I fix that for you..."

All that said, I can still feel exactly where the spinal was put in. It's not horribly painful, but still sore, and my ds is 21 mos.
LemonPie's Avatar LemonPie 09:07 PM 10-03-2007
I had an epidural with my first birth. When the NA was putting mine in, he had some trouble getting it into one intervetebral space, and had to try a second one. He kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I know this hurts SO much!" Uh, that pain was NOTHING compared to what was going on around front. Curling into the fetal position when you are in hard labor = :

I had some minor, minor site soreness for a few days and that was it. But they inserted my catheter wrong and my bladder didn't drain properly. When the epi started to wear off I was in pain from that until I got up and peed. I'm lucky that it didn't do any damage to my bladder.

My baby was OP, they used the vacuum, and I tore, so you might consider that pain epi related. I do personally.


Jen
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