Labor Lasts Three Hours Longer Now Than in the 1960s

Lotus Water BirthFifty years ago, epidural anesthesia was used less often, and, as a result, women today on average take three hours longer to deliver their babies.

A new study has found that first time mothers today spend 2.6 hours longer in the first stage of labor. The study compared data from 1959 to 1966 and 2002 to 2008 to come up with a comparative analysis of labor times and other labor related statistics.

Because epidurals make pushing harder for women, researchers believe the intervention may slow the birthing process.

Researchers not only discovered a different in labor times, but they also found some other interesting data. For example, the average pre-pregnancy BMI during the 2002 to 2008 period was 24.9 while the earlier studies shows a BMI of just 23.

The study also revealed that women are older these days when they get pregnant because many women are focused on jobs and less concerned with settling down at a young age. Women in the 1960s were on average four years younger than today’s first time mothers; that particular statistic could also explain why women have longer births since older pregnant patients tend to take longer during the pregnancy process.

Finally, the study revealed that babies in this day and age are born earlier and tend to weigh more than they did in the 1960s. According to researchers, babies are born five days earlier today than they were fifty years ago.

The study’s lead author S. Katherine Laughon, M.D., worked with her team at the Epidemiology Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to develop the studies findings.


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