Epidural Shortage a Pain for Laboring WomenMadeline Holler
The rate of unmedicated labors and births in British Columbia is uncommonly low. Only 30 percent of the women checking into the province’s hospitals get the leg- and hip-numbing procedure — half the number that get pain medicine in Toronto and Quebec.
But it’s not a natural birth movement that’s necessarily drawing down the numbers. Rather, doctors claim a shortage of anesthesiologists has left B.C. women with breathing and hypnotherapy and whatever else when delivering their babies.
Yukon had an even lower rate of epidurals — 20 percent!
Some attribute this disparity to the fact that B.C. is the only province without a dedicated obstetric anesthesiologist program. Only one hospital, in Vancouver, has an on-site, round-the-clock anesthesiologist. There, the epidural rate is 50 percent of all laboring women — the national average. This signals there are likely women at other hospitals who want an epidural, but aren’t guaranteed one. Instead, they receive intravenous painkillers or laughing gas, which doctors say are a bit riskier the closer women are to delivering.
The lack of available anesthesiologists is also putting women at risk, especially in the case of emergency c-sections.
Anybody ever experience this — showing up at the hospital and not an epidural to spare?