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When Mom Controls the Epidural: Less Drug, Better Outcomes Study Says

Childbirth and epidural options

More control for moms in labor?

A study presented a the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine annual meeting yesterday tells us that when a woman is in control of her epidural, she will give herself less of a drug dose than when the dose is automatic. And that’s a good thing.

The researchers studied pregnant women who were randomly assigned to three groups: one given a standard continuous infusion of anesthesia (the most common set up during labor), a continuous infusion with mom-control additional option, and patient-controlled anesthesia only.

When mom had control, things turned out better all around (see details below). So why don’t women in labor and delivery have more direct say in their anesthesia?

The women in the first group used an average of 74.9 mg of anesthesia during labor. The second group, 95.9 mg, and the patient-controlled group used the least of all, an average of 52.8 mg.

All groups reported that they were equally comfortable during labor, although the moms who controlled their own drugs said they were in slightly more pain when they pushed. They reported being just as happy with their pain management overall, though.

Since many doctors agree that epidural medication can slow labor down, getting away with less medication overall is a good thing, right?

If you had an epidural during childbirth, did you have a say in the dosing or not? Or would you rather the anesthesiologist take over that job so you could focus on having the baby?

Image: flickr

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