Childbirth Study Finds Little Need for a Coach

From Reuters

Pregnant women coached through their first delivery do not fare much better than those who just do what feels natural, according to a study released Friday.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found that women who were told to push 10 seconds for every contraction gave birth 13 minutes faster than those who were not given specific instructions. But they said the difference has little effect on the overall birth, which takes 14 hours on average.

“There were no other findings to show that coaching or not coaching was advantageous or harmful,” said lead author Dr. Steven Bloom, the university’s interim head of obstetrics and gynecology. “Oftentimes, it’s best for the patient to do what’s more comfortable for her.”

Bloom and his team studied 320 first-time mothers who had simple pregnancies and did not receive epidural anesthesia. About half were given specific instructions by certified nurse-midwives during the second stage of labor, when they were fully dilated. The rest were told to “do what comes naturally.”

On average, coached mothers trimmed the final stage to 46 minutes compared with 59 minutes, according to the study sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health. Both groups experienced about the same number of forceps use, Caesarean deliveries and skin tears.


The results were published in the January issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.