No more push to deliver?

Doctors question the need to push during labor

A new study may make a common part of delivery—pushing during contractions—as obsolete as the phrase, "Boil some water, rip up some blankets."

The study, from the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center, found that women who were coached to push during contractions reduced labor by an average of only 13 minutes. After three months, women from the study were examined and some of those who had pushed had diminished bladder capacity and needed a smaller amount of fluid in their bladder to cause them to feel the need to use the bathroom.

While these side effects may only be temporary, further research is needed, says Dr. Steven Bloom, the study’s lead author.

Bloom points out there is no medical origin to having women push during contractions, which is referred to as "coaching" in this study. But it doesn’t mean that women in labor don’t need help.

"There is a role for a loving, supporting attendant," Bloom says. That person could do things such as rub the mother’s back or hold her hand rather than encouraging her to push.

This study will offer women more options during delivery, says Dr. Maura Quinlan, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Chicago Hospitals. "What this shows is there’s no one right way."

Quinlan already advises mothers to trust their instincts during labor, even if it is their first birth. "Their body knows the right way to deliver."

Graham Johnston


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