Question about heplock
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Thread: Question about heplock

  1. #1
    May 2010 Chat Host
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    Default Question about heplock

    I spoke with my doctor about not wanting an IV, and he said that was fine as long as I had a heplock. At first, I felt like that was a good compromise. However, now that I think about it, I don't see it any more necessary than an IV the minute I walk in the door. I don't want an IV because I want to have as little intervention as possible as long as my birthing experience is going well and low risk. He says a heplock is there to start an IV if something suddenly goes wrong. I'm not against medical intervention if it becomes medically necessary. So my question is this, how often does something go wrong in a low risk pregnancy/ childbirth so quickly that an IV could not be put in? What situations occur that my life or the baby's life would be at risk because they couldn't get an IV in quickly enough?

    I would like to discuss not getting the heplock unless something starts to go wrong. So if all goes well, I wouldn't have to have one at all, but if something starts going wrong, I'll have it put it and available for treating complications. My doctor apt is this Friday, so I wanted to ask you ladies on the board (and especially nurses that have had to deal with this) before I go in.
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  2. #2
    Community Host kridda_88's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
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    I was against the IV as well and didn't really want the hep-lock but got it anyways. They could put one in pretty easy in a rush. They do it all the time in the ER. I think they like it in just in case you get dehydrated because getting an IV in a dehydrated vein is NOT easy. I was glad i had the hep-lock because i lost a lot of blood and needed fluids fast.It didn't hinder my being able to move at all and it was only after the delivery that i needed something. By then i just wanted to cuddle my baby. I also went so fast that they put it in LITERALLY 10 minutes before i started pushing.

    In my opinion it really wasn't that big of a deal to have the hep-lock. I was dead set against the IV and kept myself hydrated by drinking water at home and sucking on ice chips at the hospital. But in the end it's all up to you.
    Last edited by kridda_88; 05-05-2010 at 02:07 PM.
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  3. #3
    Posting Addict jooniper's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
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    I see no harm in the heplock, and its a good compromise with your doctor.
    If you hemorrhage after labor, they'll want to get pitocin or fluids into you quickly (which has happened to some awesome natural low-risk childbirths of my sister- it wasn't until after labor that they needed to intervene but when they did they needed to quickly). ETA: I just think it'd be more pleasant to sit still and be poked early on in labor than during a contraction or during the afterbirth where you have a baby and are still contracting and losing bed. That said, I'm not getting one this time because I'm doing a homebirth. But if I did another hospital birth I'd probably get one.

    I don't think it's the end of the world either way, but as far as unnecessary interventions go, you could do much worse
    Last edited by jooniper; 05-05-2010 at 03:01 PM.
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  4. #4
    Community Host sarahsunshine's Avatar
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    Alberta, Canada


    I wouldn’t want it simply because it would prevent me from moving freely, getting into a hot shower, or in a birthing pool. Technically, it might not be, but I’ve had needles in me for days on end and I’m not a big fan. It’s just something to worry about, and honestly, I think there’s enough on my plate during labour. I didn’t want any clothes on, why would I want a needle in a vein?

    Then again, that’s why I opt for home…
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  5. #5
    Posting Addict faeriecurls's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Brooklyn, NY


    I have been to the ER for dehydration before when I was sick - they were able to put an IV in me and start IV fluids in very little time - probably under 2 minutes - it was hard to tell when I was puking. If you are taken to the hospital for an emergency they do what they need to do - you don't come in with a heplock.

    If you really don't want one, I wouldn't agree to the heplock to make it "easier" for them, because IMO/E it wasn't that hard in an emergency. My m/w says its not necessary and they won't make me do it so I am not concerned about it.

    I can't answer how often something goes wrong that is made worse because they couldn't get an IV in fast enough... I don't have any of those statistics. Hopefully someone else will give you more information.
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  6. #6
    Posting Addict MamaArty_RMT's Avatar
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    In the land of babies, GTA


    It's completely unnecessary, IMO, and I wouldn't do it.

    ETA: I guess I should expand upon why I wouldn't do it. lol

    1. It is easier on your body to stay hydrated through labour by drinking throughout labour. Some hospitals still follow the old policies of not letting anything other than ice chips or clear fluids, but newer research has shown that eating and drinking during labour do not increase risks of asphyxiation and actually decrease risks of having a more difficult labour. Getting dehydrated increases the risk of tiring out your uterus, created more painful, less efficient contractions, along with all the other associated risks/symptoms of dehydration. Re-hydrating with IV fluids carries it own risks. Increased blood pressure, infection at the injection site, swelling of the local site if they mess it up, etc.

    2. Hemorrhage can be dealt with just as easily with a pit shot.

    3. If there was a true emergency, they can do things FAST. Even with true emergencies, there is a window of time before they can get you in to the OR. That window of time will allow them to get all the needles in you that they need.

    4. Purely for my own comfort, I don't like anything poking into me. It's uncomfortable, it restricts my movement, it stresses me out, and it gives me the willies.
    Last edited by MamaArty_RMT; 05-05-2010 at 03:07 PM.

  7. #7


    Well I answered on our bb, but yeah I would not do it. As to pp hemourage after I had a really bad one after DS and a shot of pitocin to the leg worked better than an IV would have.

  8. #8
    Posting Addict MrsMangoBabe's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Oklahoma City


    The things that you would need IV access for are pretty rare. It would be necessary for a c-section, but very few c/s are real, time-sensitive emergencies. If it is an emergency, they can place the IV anywhere (in my experience, they seem to be able ot find good veins in elbows better than in hands, but you wouldn't want it in your elbow while laboring).

    It is not necessary to have an IV line to get anti-hemmorhage drugs in you if you bleed too much after the birth. A shot of intramuscular pitocin works just as well, if not better, and they don't have to use as much because it is not diluted by the IV fluid.

    But you have to decide if avoiding the heplock is worth arguing for. If you decide to get it, you might want to ask to have it placed on the outside of your arm so it will be less likely to interfere with positions you want to use (having it in the hand can make hands&knees uncomfortable). Also ask if it will interfere with your ability to use a tub or shower (I don't think it has to)

  9. #9
    Posting Addict cmljll's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    South Louisiana


    Something to consider is how easy it is to get an IV in your veins normally. Mine are tough to get an IV started in so the heplock was a no brainer for me!

    Btw, there is no needle left in your arm when you get a heplock. It's a flexible tube. How annoying it is depends on where they do it...
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  10. #10


    I think it's really up to you.

    Personally, if I were to do another birth in a hospital, I would go ahead and get the heplock if my doc wanted, but refuse the IV. Why? Because it's one less thing to fight with my attending about. Part of the give and take. The docs are up against hospital policies, etc. Depending on the doc, they might be more willing to go with other "non-standard" things are most important to you if you are willing to do a few things that are important to them.

    Of course, if not having anything in your arm is high on your list, then you want to go to bat for it.

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