Seeking Moms Who Have Had a Bad Reaction to Epidural

Updated on January 08, 2010
S.A. asks from Eagle River, WI
19 answers

Hi Moms, I am due at the end of the month with our second little one and am curious about pain relief options. With my daughter, I got the epidural and literally within minutes, you could see my heart beating unbelievably fast in my chest, also my blood pressure dropped remarkably. I was freezing, shivering uncontrollably, and they said I needed some oxygen. They had to give me 2 shots of something to bring my blood pressure back up and turn my epidural off altogether. By the time I delivered, all sensation was back, so not a terrific experience with the epi. However, I am a little concerned on how well I will be able to tolerate the pain this time around, My dr said we could always give the epi another go, just on the lowest dose possible and to keep a very close eye on me. Just wondering if any other moms out there have gone through a situation like that and what you chose to do for successive pregnancies in regards to pain relief?

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K.G.

answers from Sioux City on

You would probably be amazed at what you can handle. I pysch myself up for handling anything and it would amaze you what you can do!! Really, with my 2nd I delivered my baby breech with no pain meds at all, zip, zero!

My doctor does something that helps a lot with the actual pain of the birth. I did have this with my first. If you can stand the contractions up to the point of delivering try a pudendal block.

Hope that helps, good luck with delivery!!

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L.H.

answers from Milwaukee on

I had those problems with the epi after c-section. I couldn't stop shaking and they had to give me several shots of something (narcotic)to stop it. That was my only experience an epi.

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J.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

I had the same exact thing happen when I had an epidural with my 2nd child, and by the time I was pushing I felt everything, seemed like a huge waste to me. The first time around I chose not to get an epidural and though more painful through the hours of the labor prior to pushing, seemed a lot better for me in the end.

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J.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

Shelley,

I had a drop in heart rate and chills with my first when I got the epidural, but they noticed I was totally dehydrated (I'd been at the hospital for more than 24 hours - and I'd only had one bag of fluids through my IV). Once they hydrated me, we did fine.

That said, I had my second and third babies totally natural in a birthing tub and I would NEVER have an epidural again.

If you want to go natural, and are a water person at all (like to swim, find a hot shower relaxing) you should seriously consider a waterbirth. For me, it was amazing. It was amazing how much my body relaxed and the pain subsided when I got in the tub.

That said - know you can do it naturally, since you did it before. Keep moving, keep hydrated, rest when you can, and your body should do the rest. 90% of all women should be able to deliver their babies totally naturally without any interventions at all.

Good luck!
Jessica

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi Shelley,

I can see how scary that was for you, having a racing heart. I have that heart condition and I couldn't imagine suffering with that during childbirth. I personally didn't have an epidural with either of my children, mostly because of the inconsistencies of quality and placement and I was afraid of the needle going in my spine (I'm a big chicken about that). With my first child I was given Stadol to help me relax between contractions. It worked awesome! That and labour breathing worked for me.

I would say that if you really want an epidural this time around, talk to your doctor about your concerns and possible reasons it went wrong in the first place to make sure it doesn't happen again. Talk about different options available for you in case you opt against an epidural. And make sure that if those options don't make you comfortable, you can get an epidural at the last minute. Some doctors won't do it late in the birthing process and some will. My OB/GYN has 5 kids so she was willing to do it anytime (having a sympathetic doctor really helps!). Good luck and congratulations!

S.

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K.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

With my first I ended up with nasty headaches, and in the end needed spinal block done. What a crappy few days! With my second kid I was so nervous, but couldn't handle the pain so I go another. No problems what so ever! Mine was more of a Dr error, although the would never admit to it.

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H.J.

answers from Minneapolis on

I am pregnant with my third and like my first two I plan on having no pain medicine, my first I would have love medication but I never got the change to get any...I wouldn't change that for the world. The EPI can cause so many issues it is not worth the risk. there are many options when going without medicine, water birth, amongst others. You can also receive a shot of Nubain if you need to in the later part of labor to take the edge off a little to recoup. If you go in remembering that the really painful part doesn't really last that long and that you can do it. I had issues with shoulder distocia with my second (boy) and even with the added pain of that....which is crazy to even think about...I will still be going without medicine! You can do it!

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

Pain medication and epidurals scared me MUCH more than the possibility of pain. I had heard too many stories like yours and worse. I delivered my daughter with no drugs at all and would absolutely do it again! We can handle more than we think we can. I had a wonderful mid-wife at the birth (through Park Nicollet) and had a meeting with a doula a couple of weeks before delivery. She gave me a very good idea of what to expect and how to handle it mentally. Whatever you can do to relax and be confident will help immensely.

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C.F.

answers from Milwaukee on

With my first pregnancy I tried the Staydol first then had the epidural. He must have misshot my nerve because I had no relief. They did it again and I had no feeling in my right leg and had nausea and shaking. I think the only thing that saved me was the breathing I had practiced in baby class. I felt everthing including the stitches at the end of delivery.
With my second child she was breech and a scheduled c section. I had a spinal that time and no ill effects from it.

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J.S.

answers from Green Bay on

I didn't have your experience, but I actually avoided an epidural with my first and when the pain got nearly unbearable, I got a dose of Nubain (not sure on the spelling) in my regular IV. (I was on antibiotics through the IV because I tested positive on the strep test. If that isn't the case, they give Nubain in a shot in your arm.) It was just enough to take the edge off and I could handle the pain and not need an epidural. I plan on going the same route with my second one. I personally have a huge fear of needles, and really wanted to avoid the thought of putting on in my back unless I truly couldn't handle the pain any longer. I actually gave the nurse a scare who put the regular IV in my hand as I fainted for a few seconds.

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A.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I have had 3 epidurals and with my second one I had the same experience that you did. I was very nervous about getting the third epi but it went just fine. You are actually the only other person, besides myself, I have heard of who has had an adverse reaction to an epidural. I woud say try it again if you need it. Good luck to you!!

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M.M.

answers from Milwaukee on

My bad reaction was not so much side effects of the epi more that they didnt place it right. They placed it too low so i was still getting every little contraction but lost the sensation to push when needed plus epi can make delivery go slower and take more time which puts you in pain for a longer period. they had to really coach me and push on my abdomen to get the baby out. With my second baby I did some lamaze type of classes and worked on my breathing and meditation. On top of that I got laughing gas while going through hard labor. Out of the two labor and deliveries the second was much more enjoyable. You might want to check into a doula or midwife to help you through if you decide to do it medication free. If I have any more children I will more than likely try to do it epi free again but thats what I say now, it's always a different story when you are actually going through it. Good luck and congrats on your new little one due very soon.

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K.O.

answers from Minneapolis on

After trying to muscle through both times, I had epis and I think the side effects were worse the second time - more itching for the following 24 hours, needed O2 the second time, but it still worked. I didn't do it until I was at the point there I'd had enough (28 hr and 19 hr. labors) so they didn't wear off. I skipped the nubane the second time b/c I thought it really didn't help at all the first time.

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K.G.

answers from Minneapolis on

I had almost the EXACT same experience as you and know exactly how you feel. I felt like when I delivered I was re-enacting scenes from the Exorcist!

When I found out I was having my second child I was concerned that my experience would be the same as the first time. I did not even consider a natural birth or using other pain management options as I still remembered just how much pain I was in the first time. So, I went with the epidural again. Much better this time!!!I had a few hiccups with it again but nowhere near the problems I had the first time. They started me on a much lower dose and increased it as needed as well as giving me boosts with other medicines. By the time I actually delivered my son I was mentally present and part of the process and could enjoy what was happening. The last time I felt like I had to be scraped off the ceiling after I delivered my daughter. I think there were a couple of reasons it worked better this time. First, with my daughter they had to constantly change my position because she was laying on the umbilical cord so her heart rate would drop (this will make more sense in a minute). Second, my blood pressure was normal this time and they did not have to give me oxygen. Third, I had one of the best nurse anesthesiologists taking care of me where as last time the woman didn't seem to care too much. What she thinks was happening with me in BOTH deliveries was that the position of my pelvis and the way my babies are positioned down there keeps some of the medicine from reaching all of the nerves. She would change my position if one side was feeling more pain and after a few minutes the epidural was able to hit those nerves. With my daughter they had to constantly change my position to get her off the cord so the epidural was never able to effectively hit all of the nerves down there.

I know every situation is different but I hope this helps you with what ever decision you end up making.

Good luck!

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S.M.

answers from Duluth on

Hi Shelley,
I just had my 3rd daughter two months ago so my delivery is still very fresh in my mind. With my two eldest girls, I did not receive pain medication-not by choice but due to complications of labor. Because of this, I was very anxious about pain medication with my last delivery. I did a lot of research & also watched Ricki Lake's "The Business of Being Born". One of the side effects of an epi that I learned was that some mothers had trouble bonding with their babies after delivery as a result of an epi. To be honest, I did not believe it & thought it was propaganda from the natural delivery movement to persuade pregnant women not to use pain medication. I was still very hesitant about the epi though, mainly because of the needle & the procedure.
My doctor empathized with the fact that I was afraid I would have to go through labor again without pain relief and allowed me to have an epi immediately following the start of my inducement (I had already dilated to 4 during my 3rd trimester). I had the same reaction you did with low blood pressure & needed 3 shots to get me stabilized. It was very frightening, but because I was more scared of the labor pains I agreed to be kept on the lowest dose of epi & continue labor. They said I was just very sensitive to it. The epi worked & I didn't feel any pain throughout delivery. I also didn't feel anything emotionally-not during labor, not when my beautiful, perfect little girl was born, and not anything the first 6 WEEKS of her life. With my first daughters, I was able to feel their delivery & the rush of relief that they were in the world safely & that the pain had ended. I couldn't feel anything with my last. I don't know what to attribute my postpartum to, but because I would never want to go through that again, I would not get another epidural.
I know labor is scary. I really think you should do whatever you need to in order to get your precious baby into the world and in your arms & use any pain relief necessary to do that, even an epi. I just wish a real person had told me their postartum story before I had agreed to have my epi.
Good luck with your delivery & take care!

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E.I.

answers from Duluth on

one thing i know from not using pain medication during my birth with my son is that just when you think the pain is getting bad, your body comes through for you and raises the pain tolerance that you can handle. there is no reason (other than the extra money for the hospitol and person administering the epi) that you should have to have one, you should be ok. there ARE other options!! immediatly ask your doctor what ALL of the options are for pain medication. around transition (you do know the process of birth and the stages right?) transition is the "worst" period during a birth. the contractions really intensify and come almost right on top of each other. i asked for some sort of relaxer. it made me feel half asleep between contractions, and by the time i was pushing it wore off. it was great, even when they only gave me half doses the whole time i needed it.

ask your doctor all of the other pain options. epidurals werent even offered in my clinic. so i know there are a bunch of others.
www.askdrsears.com might have some information for you - im sure that one of dr william sears books (the birth book) has a list of medication that can be used to ease pain during labor

if you need some support, just want to talk, or if you really want some more information please do not hesitate to send me a message. [email protected]____.com is my email address, i would be happy to help you any way that i can. you CAN do it without any drugs, especially considering the reaction you had the first time. there is no reason to risk it again. :)
also, its probably not too late to hire a doula who will be of GREAT help during your labor. sure, they might be costly, but if you really think you need the support, give it a try. i dont know how to get ahold of one, but if you go to www.llli.org and search for a local or nearby la leche league group they might surly know of a doula or someone who would be willing to help you out. :)

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J.A.

answers from Omaha on

Shelley,
I didn't have epidurals with either of my pregnancies, but I was concerned when we had our second, so I tried hypno-birthing and had a great experience. My provider even had a referral to a psychiatrist who taught me how to do it and it worked great. Best money I ever spent! Worth looking into, easy to learn and effective for many.
Take care,
J.

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L.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

They tried threading my epi twice and it didn't work either time so they ended up (with my permission of course) giving me intra-thecal morphine. The good news is that it worked beautifully, the bad was that I lost most sensation from the waist down so had to rely on my husband and the nurse to tell me when to push. But the drugs stopped as soon as they turned it off, I didn't feel groggy or out of it afterwards and it managed the pain very well for me.

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J.F.

answers from Rochester on

I had a very similar reaction as you during my first delivery, and during my second, chose to go with the lowest dose possible, and still had the chills and low blood pressure. For my third I chose to go completely natural and though it was painful, it was tolerable. I'm due in five days with my fourth and will once again be going without medication. The side effects of the epidural just aren't worth it to me.

For pain relief during labor, I used heat packs on my lower back, acupressure massage, breathing techniques and the like. I was blessed with a short labor (four hours all together, only half an hour of pushing), so that helped as well. I hope you find some techniques that work for you, and congrats on the baby!

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