20It Can Delay Labor

According to Dr. Sarah J. Buckley, "Epidurals slow labor, possibly through the laboring woman’s oxytocin release, although there is also evidence from animal research that the local anesthetics used in epidurals may inhibit contractions by directly affecting the muscle of the uterus."

She continues, "On average, the first stage of labor

is 26 minutes longer in women who use an epidural, and the second, pushing stage is 15 minutes longer. Loss of the final oxytocin peak probably also contributes to the doubled risk of an instrumental delivery—vacuum or forceps—for women who use an epidural."

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