Use of epidural anaesthesia to lessen labour pain during delivery only increases the second stage of labour to make the delivery time extend by 2 hours, says a new study.
It is known that epidural intervention helps relieve pain, but it also increases the time of delivery. And the new study revealed further that this duration gets even longer.
Dr Yvonne Cheng, study's lead author and a specialist in maternal-foetal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said, "The effect of epidural can be longer than we think and as long as the baby looks good and the women are making progress, we don't necessarily have to intervene (and perform a cesarean section) based on the passage of time."
As per the new study, for women having baby for the first time, the second stage of labour took 336 minutes with epidural, while 197 minutes without epidural. So the difference came up to 2 hours and 19 minutes.
And in case of women who have had a baby before, the duration of second stage labour was 255 minutes with epidural and 81 minutes sans epidural. And here the difference was 2 hours and 54 minutes, the study said.
According to researchers, the study could bring about changes in the way doctors think regarding cesarean-section deliveries and could also affect their decisions to perform such deliveries.
"Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists specifically says that the doctor doesn't have to intervene based on the passage of time alone, it is still kind of a gray zone," Cheng said.
The study was published in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The finding indicates that "clinicians might need to wait later before intervening with oxytocin, forceps, vacuum or a cesarean," said Dr S Katherine Laughon, an investigator at the National Institutes of Health.