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Labor takes longer now. In other news, green hospital gowns cause colitis.

The following post contains the off-the-top-of-the-head thoughts of a practicing OB-GYN regarding the article, Babies Take Longer To Come Out Than They Did In Grandma’s Day on NPR’s Health Blog. 


As a practicing obstetrician in a busy office, I am continually on the lookout for complications arising in my patients. That said I have read this study and, with complete surprise, said aloud, “The federal government funded this WHY?” There is an American flag waving outside my window causing no problems. When, oh when, shall we study it?

The basis for my question is exactly the basis for this study that Mr. Knox is referencing (the NIH study that is). There was no “problem” proffered that this study from UTAH (a perfect cross section of America if ever there was one) seemed to address. This is exactly what the residents from my alma mater did. Come up with something, anything, that would result in a research project that could be presented for a publication and you get to graduate, EVEN if there was no “problem” being studied. Studying hospital gown colors in delivery suites would be a good example.

Okay, NIH publishes that the first stage of labor times are now longer by 2.6 hours than 50 years ago. The authors start the paper without giving any reason for its existence. They then throw in a few ideas about obesity, epidurals and oxytocin. VOILA, out come the cesarean section rates (four times higher now) and a final line admonishment that women who are overweight should speak to their health care provider before becoming pregnant. Great conclusion, guys. Like the final results of a horse race should be to not drink and drive.

Is it a problem that labor is MEASURED as longer now than in the 60’s? There needs to be a yes to even consider a viable response. The, only then, can we look at the plethora of associated factors that could predispose to this un-named complication of what probably boils down to inductions versus laboring at home ‘til you trusted your body and came in to a hospital because their food is so much tastier.



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Reader Comments (3)

Hmmm, well my mother took 24 hours off laying on her back to deliever each one of her three children. These children all grew into women who have birthed their first babies in active upright positions in less than 12 hours. (One of them managed it in around one hour). One wonders what the optimum time period for first labour is....I'm sure they would be trying to fix it if they decided it was too short!

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGee

I actually wonder if studying the length of labor could help women by changing the "timelines" that are often imposed on laboring women based upon the Freedman's curve. I have witnessed many cesareans performed because the laboring mom "feel off the curve." If we had more accurate data, maybe some of them would have been "allowed" to continue to labor and had successful vaginal deliveries. Just a thought.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA LD RN

Why the heck anyone should need a study to be "ALLOWED" to labor naturally I will NEVER understand. Each woman has her OWN timeline. Women need to stand up and scream ENOUGH! and not lay down and trust physicians who have only medical school--and NOT EVIDENCE BASED CARE--to have their best interests at heart. OB makes MONEY. It keeps the lights on in the hospitals. Women are exploited so men can have better cardiac care.........so the hospitals can collect enough $$ to stay open and build expensive new additions...It will not end if woman continue to believe the lies.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA LD RN too
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