Friday, 2 March 2012

My Second Antenatal Class: Pain Relief

To be honest this session didn’t really do very much for me, but I think this might be because I have already talked to lots of people and read on pregnancy forums and websites about the many pain relief methods.
The midwife started by talking through a basic labour scenario, and then would give different incidences that would result in different birthing methods having to be used. This included looking at using ventousse or forceps if the baby was finding it hard to turn in the canal, and she said this can include the doctor having to cut you (episiotomy). She said that these days episiotomies are not done very often, because it is known that tearing naturally heals a lot quicker than being cut.

I really hate the idea of having to use forceps or the ventousse, as I just don’t like how aggressive it seems and have read in the past that the trauma of this style of labour can cause behavioural issues for the child. However, I am aware that there is not conclusive evidence for this, and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there unharmed by being delivered in that way. It just seems a scary thing when I have watched it on TV, but it can’t be helped if baby cant position correctly.
She went onto give a scenario where caesarean needed to be done. Interestingly, she said that C-sections are just as dangerous as open heart surgery, which is why you are supposed to literally do nothing for up to 6 weeks. This includes not even bending down to open washing machine or your oven door, and pushing a pram can also cause problems. The only thing you can do during that time is hold your baby, but you cannot hold anything heavier.
It amazes me how celebrities have made the C-section look like the best option, because there is no pain and they probably even get a tummy tuck at the same time, and this has given us all the false illusion that it is a very safe procedure, when it is actually very dangerous!
The midwife went on to talk about the various forms of pain relief that can be used during these labours, which started with the TENS machine for the initial contractions. This apparently puts light electrical spasms into your back, which sends a message to the brain, distracting it from the contraction pain. I have heard mixed reviews about this- the midwife was very positive about it, but my sister used it and said it did absolutely nothing. I’m unsure if I will bother with this, and may use techniques I have been reading about instead, such as pacing, focussing on the sound of my breath and making noise to match the pain, in order to block it out.
After a tea break, the midwife began talking about gas and air (entonox), which can be used throughout the whole of the labour, and also if you choose to use a birthing pool. It can make some people feel sick or tired, but generally makes you feel light-headed.
The birthing pool is another method of pain relief, but you can only get in once you are 4cms dilated. The water is at body temperature, so is quite warm, and you can still use heart monitors for the baby whilst in the pool. She said your partner can also get in if he likes, and when I told him this, he was unsure. We saw another midwife a few days later for a check up, who reminded us that I may poo in the water and the blood will also be in there, which made The Bloke quickly decide he didn’t want to be in there. What a wuss.
Other pain relief includes pethidine, but can make the baby drowsy, so I will be avoiding this one at all costs, and then there is the epidural.
I really hate the idea of a needle in my back, and being partially or fully numbed from the waist down, but I am also aware that if the pain is that unbearable, this is probably the best option.
Because you are numb, you have to have a catheter, and the thing that most puts me off, is that you have to be in hospital longer after the birth if you have an epidural, and I am not a fan of being in hospital longer than I need to.
The midwife said epidurals can slow labour down, and you have to push whilst feeling numb which can feel very strange, but it is very helpful if you have had a long labour and are tiring.
In terms of my ideal birth plan (and I am aware most women’s birth plans never end up actually going to plan) is to use minimal pain relief, and to focus on moving about as much as possible in the early stages, using gas and air to take the edge off, and if possible, using the birth pool.
If labour goes on for a long time and I get tired, then I will be up for epidurals, and then to consider all options if there are any complications. I do not want to use pethidine at all, mainly for the effects it has on the baby, but also it can make the woman feel sick, and I don’t need that!
I would like the cord cut once the blood has fully drained into baby, and ideally I want the chance to take home the placenta (I think it is cool to say you have tried your own placenta!) but will have to see what happens on the day. I don’t mind delivering the placenta naturally or with the injection, but would want to know if the injection would affect my ability to cook it afterwards.
I will also opt for baby to have the vitamin K injection, as the oral version is a lengthy process and they cannot guarantee the baby will absorb it orally enough compared to the injection. There is research about how the vitamin K can cause problems, but there is far more research proving that it doesn’t, hence the NHS’ stance on it.
The next session will be on breastfeeding- such a debatable topic and I have very mixed views about it. If the woman preaches about it too much I may have to get on my high horse and stand up for those that didn’t breastfeed!

1 comment:

  1. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing, I didn't really know about the oral form of vitamin K so I will look into that.