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Old 12.07.2016, 14:57
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Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

I read an article in the Wall street Journal, and it had me wondering (again) if it's common practice NOT to give women pain medicine when giving birth in Switzerland ?

I'm just really curious, because the article says that hospitals and birthing clinics promote women having births as natural as possible.

The first time I thought about this was after a friend had given birth in the local Kanton Spital. She was telling me about her experience, and that the pain from the contractions was so intense she was begging the doctors and nurses to give her pain medicine, but they would not. Then she said her family was pleading with them to give her pain medicine, and the doctors would not. Finally, she passed out from the pain and exhaustion and had to be revived with some oxygen. In the end, she did have a regular birth and the baby was fine.

I couldn't believe that they would not give her the pain medicine, but a long time later I read in a book that there is a point in labor and delivery where doctor's can not administer any pain medicine. I don't know what point my friend was in her delivery when she asked for pain medicine / epidural, but after reading that I understood why the doctors possibly could not give any pain medicine.

Then more recently, I had another friend who gave birth at the Kanton Spital, and she was also telling me about having her baby. She also said that her contractions became so intense and painful that she passed out and had to be revived with oxygen. I asked her if at any point they gave her pain medicine and she said no. I asked her if she had asked for pain medicine, and she said she had not. Her baby was also born healthy.

Has anyone had an experience here of giving birth with an epidural/pain medicine ?


If you'd like to read the article, it's just a general overview of giving birth in Switzerland, you can find it here http://blogs.wsj.com/expat/2015/04/2...n-switzerland/
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:02
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

MrsG is a midwife at the cantonale hospital in Fribourg and there they certainly do offer pain relief if requested. To let a birthing mother pass out due to extreme pain is pretty close to malpractice in my opinion.
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:10
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

I gave birth in the samartain hospital in Vevey a year ago and had an epidural. There was never any attempts made to try to talk me out of it. They dont have gas and air so if you wait to long to request an epidural it could be too late for any pain relief.....
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:12
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

Ok, thank you for answering ! I just really wanted to know if they would give pain medicine / epidural if requested by the patient, and everything was normal etc.

I can't imagine being really scared, in a lot of pain, and being refused pain medicine.
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:15
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

the missus has gone through labour twice now in Kanton Bern, and has been given pain medication each time, without even requesting for it... infact the morphine discharge control apparatus was literally given in her hand, to be administered as and when the pain got unbearable

natural birth is encouraged here, and why not, but they even entertain requests for planned C-sections, with no prejudice... that is what we went for the second time... I do understand that this could be a case to case thing, so I will reiterate that this was our experience, and may not be the norm
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:17
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

Is it possible that they refused to give her an epidural because she was too much advanced in the birthing process? The epidural can only given up to a point - if you delay it too much then you'll have to deal with the pain.

My gynecologist asked me if I had any special wishes before sending my file to my chosen hospital. She wrote "epidural" on it, and once I got to the hospital 2 months later at 4am with contractions, the midwife took a look at my chart and immediately asked if I would like the epidural immediately.

Laughing gas (nitrous oxide) is also coming into fashion too.
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:22
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

I don't know what my friends had decided before hand, but yes I also read that in a book that epidurals can only be administered up to a certain point in the delivery. So, maybe it was past that point for her.
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:27
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

At the Uni Spital ZH, my wife had requested and been given an epidural when labor started.
However a handful of midwives did try to discourage her and recommended her crazy stuff, including herbal tea, at which point I though my wife was going to smash the midwife right through the window.
Before giving the epidural, the anesthetist had to read some legal bits and ask my wife to sign an acknowledgement, this was not easy as she was suffering from very hard contractions. The epidural helped a lot though and she also was given some sort of remote to administer herself some additional "shots" (she actually did not use it).
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Old 12.07.2016, 15:42
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

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However a handful of midwives did try to discourage her and recommended her crazy stuff, including herbal tea, at which point I though my wife was going to smash the midwife right through the window.
As I mentioned in another thread, same thing happened to me. But once they wrote "no homeopathy" on my chart, no one bothered me with it again. They also tried to convince me the herbal tea they had would speed the delivery. I am not sure what I answered (I was waiting for the anesthesiologist at the time, so in blinding pain) but considering they didn't ask again, I might have threatened to throw them out of the window myself.
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Old 12.07.2016, 16:11
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

Mrs electrique and I had a baby a month ago at Baden Kanton Spital. They asked us if we wanted epidural, we said yes and they gave it to her without arguing.

First 3 hours though they couldn't give it to her because if the dilation is not far enough, it could actually stop the delivery (so we were told). However, for the next 5 hours she had the epidural.

From the looks of my wife, they didn't dare to offer her any homeopathic stuff :P
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Old 12.07.2016, 16:35
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

Of course you can request and receive pain relief during labour here, where ever did the Wall Street Journal get such a daft idea from?

It's usual to discuss this kind of procedure beforehand with either the doctor in charge or the hospital, so that the mother is aware of the avaliable options.
Bear in mind that if for example an epidural is requested late at night then insome smaller clinics they might have to arrange for an anesthetist to be called in there's no-one actually on duty and this can lead to a delay.

And as others have pointed out.... sometimes it's just too late!!!
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Old 12.07.2016, 16:54
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

Things have changed in the past 20 years & it's not a silly idea. It is how it used to be. I was refused pain relief until it was obvious there was no way the alien was not going to come out of its own accord & even then the epi didn't work properly before an emergency c-section (34 hours of screaming agony & 2 shifts of staff who said "oh, you're still here" after they'd clocked off, gone home to sleep & come back the next day). I wasn't given pain killers afterwards either. Told to get up out of bed & walk around which is impossible having had your stomach sliced open. I asked various times for something + didn't get anything. They wouldn't even give us a wheelchair so OH could take me to the other building at that time. He had to "borrow" one from the OAPs department 2 days later. In the end I discharged myself & OH looked after me & we had to go back a few days later to collect baby neddy from the special care unit.
2nd experience elected c-section in a private clinic which was the total opposite. Cared for, fed, allowed to see baby neddy no 2 immediately in his incubator.
I hear the cantonale now has specialist pain nurses.
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Old 12.07.2016, 17:45
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

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Things have changed in the past 20 years & it's not a silly idea. It is how it used to be. I was refused pain relief until it was obvious there was no way the alien was not going to come out of its own accord & even then the epi didn't work properly before an emergency c-section (34 hours of screaming agony & 2 shifts of staff who said "oh, you're still here" after they'd clocked off, gone home to sleep & come back the next day). I wasn't given pain killers afterwards either. Told to get up out of bed & walk around which is impossible having had your stomach sliced open. I asked various times for something + didn't get anything. They wouldn't even give us a wheelchair so OH could take me to the other building at that time. He had to "borrow" one from the OAPs department 2 days later. In the end I discharged myself & OH looked after me & we had to go back a few days later to collect baby neddy from the special care unit.
2nd experience elected c-section in a private clinic which was the total opposite. Cared for, fed, allowed to see baby neddy no 2 immediately in his incubator.
I hear the cantonale now has specialist pain nurses.
My second was born in Geneva 34 years ago.... the only problem I had was not getting to the clinic fast enough to have an epidural before he arrived; less than three hour labour from start to finish, a massive thunderstorm raging and OH point-blank refusing to go out and drive 'in that'.
Admittedly I was in La Tour where the nursing care was exceptional, but a lot of my friends had children within the same time frame at the Cantonal and none of them were refused pain relief.
It really sounds like you were just very, very unlucky rather than it being the norm for the time and if even half of it's true I'm sincerely shocked and sorry they put you through it. What did your doctor/obstetrician say??

My D-in-L has had three children in the Cantonal in the past five years and was offered an epidural each time before she'd even settled into her bed!
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Old 12.07.2016, 17:54
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

The woman who wrote the article in the Wall Street Journal only stated that, "All Swiss establishments encourage natural births, including hospitals." By natural, I was guessing she meant with little intervention ( i.e. epidural / pain medicine ).

My friends' experiences, and this article made me wonder what the birth experience for other women has been. Excuse me for being so daft
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Old 12.07.2016, 18:09
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

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The woman who wrote the article in the Wall Street Journal only stated that, "All Swiss establishments encourage natural births, including hospitals." By natural, I was guessing she meant with little intervention ( i.e. epidural / pain medicine ).
I wouldn't even say that; the role of the hospital is to ensure that both mother and baby are alive and healthy at the end of the process.
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Old 12.07.2016, 18:14
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

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The woman who wrote the article in the Wall Street Journal only stated that, "All Swiss establishments encourage natural births, including hospitals." By natural, I was guessing she meant with little intervention ( i.e. epidural / pain medicine ).

My friends' experiences, and this article made me wonder what the birth experience for other women has been. Excuse me for being so daft
Ah, that's not quite the same as NOT giving pain relief if it's requested, is it?

Yes, a more natural approach to childbirth is encouraged, in that a vaginal delivery is considered the best for both mother and child; there are proven physical, hormonal and psychological advantages.
Barring complications having a natural birth is the accepted norm here, caesarian-on-demand is not (although one is obviously done when needed), but natural doesn't mean a systematic refusal to provide pain relief if it's requested.... anything from gas and air, back massage, epidural to acupuncture is avaliable and mostly covered by the mother's medical insurance.
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Old 12.07.2016, 19:19
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

I was in labor for 42 hours with my daughter. They couldn't give me any pain relief aka epidural before I was dilated to 3 cm which took 39 hours to achieve.

At that point, I was ready to take any pain relief they could throw at me. Warm bath, tea, massage, none worked. One lady offered me homeopathy, that's where I draw the line and lost my shit.

We almost lost our daughter at birth but that was because of the doctors lack of proper thinking. If the head midwife didn't take it over and called the head chief of the department, my husband would have been a widow and childless.

Second child, we went to a planned c-section straight from the beginning and it was a super positive experience.
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Old 12.07.2016, 19:39
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

Three times giving birth in CH and 2 other procedures, epidural each time.

They do no give epidural until you reach a certain stage if vaginal birth as it slows things down they said. After if things pick up fast there may not be time. My c-sections were all with epidural.

I think by natural birth they mean vaginal birth not c-section.
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Old 12.07.2016, 20:12
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

[QUOTE=Anjela;2622501]What did your doctor/obstetrician say??
/QUOTE] Once she heard I was going to the cantonal, she didn't want to know. Handed me an envelope with my notes & said goodbye.

"If the head midwife didn't take it over and called the head chief of the department, my husband would have been a widow and childless."
Nil, that's exactly how it was for me too.

I get quite irritated by this feel the flower opening, breathe through the pain BS. OK great if you pop them out like peas but let's not pretend it's a piece of cake for everyone however many party sessions you do with midwives & pretty theories. I did not at the time consider myself "unlucky" in that I would be dead if I had attempted to expel the beast in a country that didn't have an emergency team on hand. We both trod the fine line. And my beast is gorgeous after a very rough start with lots of physio & medical appointments.
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Old 12.07.2016, 20:19
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Re: Giving birth in Switzerland, did you get pain medicine ?

My Ex had an epidural both times. I got nothing. She dislocated one of my fingers while I was holding her hand, I took some tylenol or such when I got home. I was careful to offer verbal encouragement from a safe distance at the second birth.
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