Redefining “Normal” Labor?

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, U.S. women spend 2-3 hours longer in labor as compared to 50 years ago. One possible explanation for the longer labors seen today may be epidural pain relief, which can slow labor down by 40-90 minutes. Compared to women 50 years ago, women today are much more likely to have epidurals, pitocin, and C-sections. This study also found that expecting moms tend to be older, heavier, and have larger babies these days too.

These findings are important because doctors may now need to redefine what “normal” labor is. Currently, doctors have considered labor to be abnormal if there’s no change in the cervix after two hours in the “active” part of the first stage of labor. At that point, they may intervene by either giving pitocin or doing a C-section. Perhaps with a new definition of “normal”, there would be fewer interventions used.

Another study also published in the same journal, found that in the U.S. C-sections account for about one-third of all deliveries, which is at an all time high. It is estimated that by halting medically unnecessary C-sections, more than $2 billion a year in healthcare costs could be saved worldwide.

Article written by Margo Gladding, MS, CNS, LDN for Ellicott City Pharmacy.

Apr 03, 2012 | Category: Pediatrics, Women's Health | Comments: none | Tags: , , , ,

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