How an epidural helped relieve this dad's labour pain

 Photo: Getty Images

Most people can cook dinner and watch TV at the same time, but my wife and I have raised the bar. We've watched telly and had a baby.

But first things first. Those antenatal classes about the labour process scared me stiff. This first-time father had earplugs ready for when my wife roared at me and demanded heat packs/cold packs/massages/music/silence/baths/showers.

I realised they didn't call it 'labour' for nothing and I'd memorised all the coping strategies from breathing techniques to meditation.

Ben Dorries and daughter Emmy.
Ben Dorries and daughter Emmy. Photo: Supplied

But we didn't need any of them.

Forget David Copperfield and Harry Houdini – their tricks don't have anything on the wonderful magic of an epidural. It was just the trick to relieve this dad's labour pains.

The labour journey started with my wife and I having a completely open mind on pain relief.

When my wife had searing back pains early on, I tried to convince her the laughing gas was the way to go. She tried it but she wasn't laughing. The midwives powered it up to mid-strength. No sign of any laughs. Not even a giggle. They turned it up to superpower. Still no laughs.

My wife snuck a toilet break so I quickly inhaled a few puffs of the laughing gas while no-one was looking. She was right – it really wasn't funny at all.

Enter the epidural.


She wasn't worried about the size of the needle but very keen on the drugs it contained. She hoped that even if it was painful going in, it wouldn't be nearly as agonising or as protracted as the contractions she was experiencing.

We both looked away, and in it went with a jab which turned out to feel no worse than an immunisation at the doctor's, she said.

It didn't take long for her pain to go away.

Soon, we were sitting there smiling and laughing as we watched ridiculous American reality TV show Vanderpump Rules. For those not in the know, it's a Real Housewives of Beverley Hills kinda thing. Not normally our go, but just the tonic for a few cheap laughs during labour.

One of the Vanderpump stars confessed she would have been smiling too, had she not had so much Botox.

We laughed and laughed and then looked at each other in amazement.

This was not how it was supposed to be, right?

My wife was supposed to be in unbearable pain, shouting at me maniacally, questioning why we had got pregnant. And probably questioning why we had even met.

She had originally threatened to bring a brick to the hospital and drop it on my toe every time she had a contraction. But after the epidural, the contractions felt so faint and feeble they were nowhere near as painful as stubbing her toe.

One of the supposed downsides of having an epidural – using a catheter – turned out not to be such a drawback after all. After having a baby on her bladder for months, it was nice for my wife not to have to get up and go to the toilet every 10 minutes.

She was feeling so sedate that when advanced labour kicked off, she really had to concentrate to know when to push.

Baby Emmy took an eternity to arrive and needed a lot of pushing and prodding to find her way out into the big wide world.

My wife lost a lot of blood along the way, so it's fair to say I was happy I was sitting at the non-strikers end.

As for pain? There was nothing too extreme.

As much as I had been, in many ways, looking forward to the labour process, I was dreading the thought of watching my wife in agony.

But thanks to the wonders of an epidural, that was a bridge we didn't have to cross.

At the end of it all we had a happy, healthy baby. And a new mum who was tired and worn out – like all mums are – but wasn't so sore she couldn't fully enjoy the wonderfully emotional moment of childbirth.

Each to their own, but for me it is Vote 1 epidural. It makes it a smooth and enjoyable process ... for everyone.