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Old 10-22-2012, 11:45 PM   #1
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Turning off epidural without consent?

Has anyone ever heard of the anesthesiologist turning off your epidural (before it is time to push) without discussing it with you first?

I had a posterior baby and was stuck at 9 cm for a long time. I had wanted a natural birth, but eventually gave in and got an epidural after about 33 hours. I felt totally devastated, but I was really exhausted by that point (I'd only had 2 hours of sleep before that since contractions started 6 mins apart at midnight) and really needed it.

As soon as we found out the baby was posterior (there were no signs of this...no back labor), our doula was trying to get me into some positions to help the baby turn. There is a famous chart of safe laboring positions while on an epidural published by Penny Simkin (which was given to us by the hospital at the prenatal class) that we were following. Nothing out of the ordinary, just laying on my side with my lower arm behind me and upper leg in front of me...doula kept calling it a "Texas Twist" position but I think the Bradley Method calls it something different.

Anyway, the anesthesiologist came in, saw this, and went directly over to the machine and turned off my epidural. The only reason I knew what he was doing is that I asked him after he already did it. There was no discussion of my options, nothing to inform me of what was going on, not even looking me in the eyes or anything. After he had already turned it off, we tried to reason with him what we were trying to do. I was pretty out of it from exhaustion, but I definitely remember him clearly mispronouncing her name as "Penny Simpson" when he was trying to be condescending to our doula and saying "I know who Penny Simpson is, thank you very much".

He kept saying that the position I was in was somehow dangerous, and that is why he turned off the epidural, but I really think this was part of their tactics to get me to consent to a c-section (which I unfortunately eventually did...they really gave me no choice). I'm sure he must have known that as soon as I got the epidural, all of my natural endorphins went away so as soon as the epidural wore off it was going to hurt worse than before. And it did.

Anyway, has anyone ever heard of anything like this? I've heard of turning off the epidural when it is time to push, so you can feel when the contractions are and be able to push more effectively. I assume that in such a scenario the laboring mother would need to consent to this? That they wouldn't simply turn off her pain medication without asking? Or at least without discussing it with her first? But what about turning off the epidural before it is time to push? In my mind, this is considered cruel and unusual punishment. I understand that if I was really doing something potentially dangerous we would need to adjust my position to something safe, but wouldn't you think that this discussion would happen BEFORE turning it off? Or at least don't you think they should tell me what they were about to do and give me a shred of respect by looking me in the eye?

I am planning to file a formal complaint with the hospital, but I've been dealing with breastfeeding issues for the past month and haven't had time. I just don't know if this is a common thing or if I really did something wrong and he was right to do what he did or what. I'm still trying to make sense of everything that happened. Any thoughts?
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