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Research on epidural dosage control shows promise


Summary of a story from TIME, 10.2.11

A new study conducted at the Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach, California, has found that expectant moms who are allowed to control the dosage use less epidural than those who receive a continuous infusion.

Researchers divided 270 women into three groups; those who had a traditional epidural that continuously supplied relief, those who could control the administration of pain meds by pressing a button every 20 minutes and a combination group.

The patient-controlled group used 30 percent less medication.

This is good news because epidurals, despite having made labor more bearable for scores of women, have their pitfalls: they can lead to prolonged labor and an increase in vacuum and forceps deliveries. They can also result in more C-sections, which is far from ideal.

Michael Haydon, the study’s lead author and a perinatologist, says he expects more hospitals to increasingly put women in charge of managing their labor pain.

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