Interesting thread. I had an epidural with my first child almost 15 years ago. I had wanted to try a natural birth, but didn't really have the tools to do so (communication, assertiveness, relaxation and pain management.) After laboring for 12 hours at home, we went to the hospital. I was only 4cm (dilate 2 cm in those 12 hours). I felt like I was going to die, I was vomiting, I had the shakes, the personality change - but since I was 4 cm, I was told I had a long way to go. I lost all confidence and asked for the drugs. It worked too well. My blood pressure dropped so I needed medication in the IV, my contractions slowed down so they turned up the pit. A couple hours later they told me I was complete and that I should start pushing. I could not feel anything. I could not move my legs. I pushed for 1 1/2 hours on my back because the nurse told me that all her epidural patients do this. So, after 1 1/2 hours of sit ups (they wouldn't support my head because they needed to hold my legs), my neck hurt. I just wanted to change positions, but they said no. The doc said, "she's done" and he cut an episiotomy and used vacuum to pull out my 10 lb 11 oz son. The nurse told me cheerily that I only had a 3rd degree. No one told me what that meant. All I knew what that when it wore off, I was in excruciating pain in my rear end. For the next two weeks I could not sit. It felt like a knife up my rear end. I had to eat my meals standing up and nurse laying down. It is hard to fix an improper latch while laying down, which led to cracked bleeding nipples. I still have permanent damage to my pelvic floor from that unnecessary vacuum extraction, even after surgeries to repair it.
I know that the epidural was not entirely to blame for all my difficulties, but it played a huge role. With my next two - I took Bradley and had wonderful unmedicated births. I birthed in the tub for my last baby and that was fantastic. I had almost no pain (lots of strong sensations, but not really pain.) They don't call water the midwife's epidural for nothing.