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Mothers’ Labor: Two Hours Longer in 21st Century

Mothers’ Labor: Two Hours Longer in 21st Century

(ePharmaNews) - A recent study found that women today are spending about two hours more in labor during childbirth than women did 50 years ago. The study attributed this increase to several factors that differentiate twenty-first century from its former, some of these differences are cultural and some are health related, including those related to medical interventions during labor.

According to the study, published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the researchers collected information on about 40 thousand women who went into labor between 1959 and 1966, and compared them to data collected from a 100 thousand women went into labor between 2002 and 2008. They concluded that the labor in the twenty-first century is longer by about two and a half hours compared to the sixteenth of the previous century, and this applies for giving birth to the first child, while for subsequent births, labor was longer by two hours.

In an attempt to explain this difference, the researchers found many reasons that may play a role in the length of labor, one of the most important reasons is the delay in marriage and childbearing, as noted in the study data, the older maternal age in the 21st century compared to its previous, which may play a role in the length of labor.
Add to that, it appears that the prevalence of obesity in recent years played an important role in the length of labor, as the researchers found a remarkable increase in the weights of mothers compared to the sixties of the previous century. Moreover, the difference of medical practices in the delivery room contributed significantly to the results too. "Older maternal age and increased BMI (body-mass index, a ratio of weight to height) accounted for a part of the increase. We believe that some aspects of delivery-room practice are also responsible for this increase," lead author Dr. Katherine Laughon,
One of the significant differences is that women today are using more painkillers during childbirth, and more than half births today are without pain compared to only 4% of births fifty years ago which is done by injecting the anesthetic drug in the spinal column. The study lead author commented on this point by saying: “adding that epidural anesthesia is known to increase delivery time."
 In addition, the prevalence of cesarean delivery, as 12% of births today are done by Caesarean section, is approximately four times compared to the previous century.

As for medical interventions during labor during the previous century, doctors used to do surgical incision in the vagina to widen the vaginal opening and facilitate the exit of the baby, which is called a " episiotomy" as well as they were accustomed to the use special surgical equipment to pull the baby outside, which are both less used by doctors nowadays.

In an attempt for further explanation, one of the study authors added: "Women are in labor longer [today] because they are admitted [to the hospital] earlier, and there is a tendency for women to come to the hospital in an earlier phase of labor because of fear of arriving too late."
While the study also found that the period of pregnancy today seem to be shorter by five days compared to fifty years ago, so by collecting all these results we can say that the children of 21st

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Prepared by: Basel AlJunaidy
Translated by: Marcell Shehwaro

Source :


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