A Woman's Ethnicity And Genetics Can Impact Labor Progression And Pain

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... a clinical study ... suggeststhat a women's labor experience is tied to her ethnicity as well as genetics.

The study found differences in the receptor that controls uterine muscle contractions ... which predicted later transition to active labor. This genetic difference is common in Asian women and may account for findings that Asian women transition to active labor later. Black women had slower early stage labor, which could last over 36 hours. Heavy women also had much slower early labor. Epidurals were generally associated with a 30 percent longer labor time.

"We do not believe that the epidural actually slows the labor, but rather patients who are having a slower, difficult labor ask for an epidural earlier," ...

Despite coutless studies showing that routine epidurals and elective epidurals result in longer labours, more augmentation, a higher caesarean rate and a higher rate of forceps and vacuums, some obstetricians still refuse to accept this, citing other causes for these outcomes!

... the study identified the mother's sensitivity to cold was correlated with increased labor pain ... [this] might be due to differences in a receptor on the uterine muscle that detected both cold and pain ... women who require instrumental (such as forceps) vaginal delivery start off with more pain possibly because the baby's head is not in the most common position ...

Might be true if this was the case for women who have chosen private midwifery care and other continuity of midwifery care models. However, women who choose private midwifery care rarely have assisted births or epidurals. In contrast, rates of assisted births and epidurals are highest amongst women who book with a private obstetrician. These differences in intervention rates have been well-studied and are indisputable. The care of low-risk women by obstetricians results in more interventions more often, compared to when low-risk women are cared for by midwives with referral to an obstetrician if needed.

"We hope that the models that we created will allow women and their doctors to predict how fast or painful labor will occur so that they can make more informed choices about delivery," said Dr. Reitman.

To what end? To increase the caesarean rate by providing women with hard data that their labour will be long and painful, therefore not to bother trying?? What is the world coming to, where women are encouraged to accept interventions based on the possibility of a long labour? I'm sure the data will not be used to encourage homebirth to a) the women who may have a fast / painless labour and also b) the women who are forecast to have a long / painful labour (being at home feels more comfortable and safer to some women, therefore assisting labour progress).

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448