Big news: It's never too early or too late for an epidural

The latest research on epidurals reveals any time during the labor is the right time to get one — as long as the anesthesiologist is around.

A report published Thursday in the Cochrane Library by researchers in Singapore states women need not wait until reaching a certain stage of labor before being given this type of pain relief. The researchers reviewed nine studies which looked at the timing of epidurals and birth outcomes.

Epidural timing news Big news: Its never too early or too late for an epidural

Earlier reports had suggested that starting epidural anesthesia early (before the cervix was dilated no more than 4 to 5 cm) might prolong labor or increase the likelihood of a cesarean section. The analysis, however, found this wasn’t the case.

“The literature has been fairly consistent that epidurals do not meaningfully prolong labor,” Dr. Neil Seligman, a maternal and fetal medicine expert at University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, explained. “There may be a small difference but there is no meaningful difference.”

The researchers concluded “it would appear to be advantageous to initiate epidural analgesia for labor early, when requested by the woman.”

Can you imagine the days of being checked to see if you’re far enough along yet being no more?

During both of my experiences my water broke without contractions starting on their own, and eventually I was given pitocin to move things along. Even the slightest amount felt like going from zero to 100 in mere minutes, and I was more than ready for an epidural by the time they agreed to give it to me.

With my firstborn’s birth I labored for many hours after getting it, but with my second I was ready to push just as soon as the line was in. I suppose, from my personal experience then, I was right in line with the findings an epidural doesn’t influence labor length — baby is just going to make his or her debut when ever they’re ready!

Photos: MorgueFile, WikimediaCommons

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