Medical Advances Mean Longer Deliveries For Expectant Moms, Study Finds
You would think we would be faster at everything than we were half a century ago, but the latest research shows that's not the case for childbirth. NY1's Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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Kelly and Fred Wang were recently awaiting the birth of their second child, and hoping it wouldn't take as long as baby number one.
"I was induced at 10 p.m. at night. Around 2 a.m. I was in so much pain I was thinking 'How can anyone sleep?'," recalls Kelly. "So they gave me an epidural and then I was in labor all day until what do you think, 8 p.m.? And then I pushed for two hours and the baby wouldn't come and then I went to an emergency c-section."
That's more than 24 hours of labor. And probably far longer than generations of women that came before her had to endure.
National Institutes of Health researchers say, on average, childbirth takes about two hours longer than it did 50 years ago. They say that's in large part because interventions like pain-killing epidurals are far more common.
No one likes a wait, especially when you're expecting a six to 10 pound baby to come out. But some doctors say longer doesn't necessarily mean worse.
"We're comparing what happened in the 1950s and 60s to what's happening now. Back in the old days they used to give people nitrogen and everything and pull the baby out by forceps," says says Dr. Jacques Moritz of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center. "The way we were delivering before was terrible. Women didn't even know they had babies. They woke up they were in a gas state. Their babies had marks all over their face from using forceps, had no recollection. I'd rather have two hours more and have the patient involved and even do it naturally than the way it was done before."
While a lot of expectant moms might wince at the idea of a longer delivery, another factor that the study didn't necessarily look at is that babies are born much healthier these days.
"The babies are bigger, much bigger from the 50s and 60s when people were drinking and smoking when they were pregnant. It's harder to get a bigger baby out," notes Moritz.
Bottom line, while a mom in labor may want that baby out now, practices deemed safer today and improved outcomes for mother and child may be worth the wait.