About 20% of pregnant women in the UK have an epidural, which costs about Ģ500 in a private maternity hospital.
The epidural though relieves pain during child birth, the RCM's education and research committee says women having epidurals are more likely to then need some other form of intervention. Therefore they should be encouraged to avoid it! The intervention that might be needed are using forceps to deliver the baby, or a ventouse pump, which is attached to the baby's head.
The decision of the committee was that women wanting one for non-medical reasons should be forced to pay.
The proposal has been drafted as follows:-
"This conference is concerned about the rising epidural rate. The conference calls on the UK health departments to ensure that epidurals are provided free to women who have a definitive need, and that a fee is levied for all other women who desire an epidural. Last October the Cochrane Review of studies of epidurals found that women who chose them were 40% more likely to need intervention.
It also found that women opting for an epidural were more likely to experience a longer second stage of labour - when the baby is pushed out of the birth canal.
Those women also faced a greater risk of being unable to move for a short time after birth and to experience low blood pressure." So if accepted women would have to fish out the money or bear the pain.