Epidurals Can Make Labor Last Longer

woman in hospital bed

If you're debating over whether or not to have any sort of pain management during your labor and delivery, then a new study conducted at the University of California that is published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology should be of particular interest to you.

Researchers found that women who have epidurals may take two hours longer to deliver their babies than those who chose to go the natural route.

As for why it takes longer? It's pretty simple, actually. The theory is that the epidural makes it hard for women to know if they are pushing effectively because they don't feel the contractions coming on.

And that makes total sense to me. It really does. Because I distinctly remember that I did not feel one single second of pushing my son out after having my epidural.

I had a very long labor (24 hours) -- and if I recall correctly, I pushed for about 45 minutes. But now that there's a chance that forgoing the epidural could've made the whole process even shorter? I couldn't care less.

And if I ever were to have another baby, I wouldn't think twice about having an epidural again. Actually, I'd probably request the damn thing as soon as I checked into the hospital as opposed to waiting for labor to progress.

OMG. An epi is like heaven on earth, people! Before the anesthesiologist administered mine -- I was in HELL. Like real, actual hell with fire pits and snakes and demons trying to take over my body. But as soon as the doc finally gave me the epidural -- it was like pure magic or something. The pain stopped. I could finally take a deep breath and enjoy my labor and delivery. And I remember looking up at my husband and saying, "Who wouldn't want this?!?"

As far as having an epidural possibly making labor a couple hours longer? Who cares?!? I don't care if it had the potential of making it 24 hours longer. I'd still rather go pain-free than suffer through giving birth and have nothing but horrific memories of the whole deal.

If you want to go the natural route, more power to you. To each her own. And you may be just fine -- because everyone's labor experience is different. (I have a cousin who pushed out four babies naturally and barely felt a thing.)

But for me? Bring on the epi, baby. (It's THAT good.)

Are you planning on having an epidural?


Image via koadmunkee/Flickr

pain management


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StacyLC StacyLC

I had an epidural with both of my kids.  Neither labor was over 4-5 hours tops.  and with each I pushed maybe 4 times.  

Katha... Katharine205

I had an epidural and my labor was 5.5 hours.  My sister had 3 babies w/out and decided to 'treat' herself to one for her last baby - it only worked on one side of her body.  Mine was wonderful and I would gladly have it again but I really do think that labor shouldn't be planned out, it should be taken as it comes.

fave82 fave82

You're probably gonna get a ton of crap for this one, lol. I pretty much agree though. I had epis for both my labors.. from the time i woke up at home with contractions to the time i have birth, my first labor was 9 hrs, my second was only 4. I had no adverse effects from getting an epi, just sweet sweet relief. I give  people who do it naturally a lot of credit.. cause that sht can hurt.

ashjo85 ashjo85

ha, 24 hours is not a VERY long labor. I had an early epi with my first, and I was labor about 2.5 DAYS, with two hours of pushing at the end. I also had an epidural with my second, but I delayed it until I couldn't stand the pain anymore. That labor was about 10 hours with 10 minutes of pushing. So I don't think it affected the pushing part, but it could have been the reason the first stage of labor was so drawn out. It's impossible to tell what causes what.

nonmember avatar Kristi

I can't believe you people would put that toxin in your body. I had my babies while nursing orphans, eating vegan granola,sewing cloth diapers, hanging upside down in a meadow with nature.
Or I waited as long as I could and had a failed epi and waited for another while having my worst contractions and still ended up with a stuck baby and a c-section. Good times, good times.

nonmember avatar Suzy

With my first I decided to go as long as I could without an epidural. I labored for 7 hours and only got to 3 cm. I got my epi and within 30 min I was at 7cm. I think that I was very tense and the epi allowed me to relax. Unfortunately my daughter was facial presentation so I had an emergency c section at 7 cm. no pushing experience for me.

nonmember avatar Jessica

In my opinion, it's important to know the risks of an epidural and the possible side effects it can have on both you and your baby. An epidural limits your movement (during and after labor & delivery), it's ups your chances of getting a c-section by at least 50%, you will have a slower recovery, baby gets some of the drugs (so they are born less alert), and little is known about other long term side effects to the baby (or the long term side effects of mixing epidurals with Pitocin and other drugs that you'll likely need with an epidural). We spend 9 months taking care of our bodies and our babies inside of us, not taking any drugs, and then forget it all at the end? If you are pregnant (or thinking about it), I would highly suggest watching an eye opening documentary called 'The Business of Being Born' (it’s on Netflix). As women, are bodies are built for making babies and delivering them naturally. I think it’s worth doing your research and making an informed decision about your healthcare.

nonmember avatar lizzie

I wanted to go natural...labored for 17.5hours it was awful and I never progressed past 2cm. Which was where I had been the whole last month of my pregnancy anways. I finally gave in and had an epi...20min later I was at ten and pushing! Really giving some serious thought on skipping the first 17hrs of pain and getting that epi faster the next time around! Lol

nonmember avatar Kristi

Told ya.

nonmember avatar Jessica

*Our bodies

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