In the UK, doctors and patients are struggling over new regulations surrounding the use of epidurals during birth. As new guidelines have characterised the use of epidurals and caesareans as 'unnatural' in a bid to reduce interventions by up to 40%. The goal of the new guidelines is to ensure that more women are having 'normal' or 'traditional' birth. Obstetricians, however, have problems with this.
Kim Hinshaw, a consultant obstetrician at Sunderland Royal Hospital, said: ‘I have major concerns with this. I don’t think we will ever reach a figure of 60% normal delivery using this definition. For example, in Sunderland we have an epidural rate in first labours of 60%.
‘This definition implies that if you ask for an epidural for pain relief, but go on and deliver normally after a six-hour labour, your birth was not ‘normal’. That is a disgrace.’
And Professor James Walker, a consultant obstetrician at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust added: ‘This is a very rigid definition of what normal birth should be. Epidurals should not be done without reason; they should be kept to a minimum. There are some women, however, who require an epidural because they cannot cope with the pain in any other way.’I have to agree. While I am fully in favour of supporting national guidelines that seek to minimise the unnecessary interventions, at the same time, I bristle at the thought of women giving birth in pain and not being allowed to have relief if they ask for it.
Would you be happy with this model of care in your own country?