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What Do We Know About Epidurals & Second Stage Of Labor ?

I am a very passionate about advocating for women's rights. Since I found Evidence Based Birth, I cannot stop encouraging women to watch Rebecca Dekker's videos and/or to read her articles. I am very particular with what I read and I highly recommend this website and her articles because she carefully reads and reviews the different research that has been published about pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum.

I am following her current series about pain management and the effects of epidurals in women. Although, I like to highlight what I consider the most interested or key points in her presentation, I encourage you to take some time and watch the entire video.

1. "The second stage of labor begins when the cervix is fully dilated, includes the pushing phase, and ends when the baby is born. This is an important topic about the length of the second stage of labor because longer second stages have been linked with worse health outcomes for the mother, including a higher risk of infection, a higher risk of having a severe tear, a higher risk of post partum hemorrhage, and a higher risk of needing forceps/vacuum or Cesarean."

2. "Researches have suggested that epidurals could potentially decrease the mothers pushing efforts by reducing the effectiveness of the uterine contractions during the pushing phase. And possibly, they might relax the pelvic floor, which would affect the baby as it is rotating and coming out."

3. "A large body of research evidence has shown that epidurals are linked to a longer second stage of labor. This has been demonstrated in large observational studies as well as in randomized control trials."

And, what I found the most importance advice to all of us, was:

4. "I want to encourage you to be weary of news headlines that say things like “New Study Proves.” It’s important to consider the overall body of evidence. What has all the research shown up until this point? Also, if you can, it’s important to find the study for yourself and look at it or ask somebody else to look at it with you, like a trusted healthcare provider. You need to look at the methods of how they actually carried out the study, including the limitations of the study. A lot of people are tricked by these headlines. They thought this one meant that epidurals don’t lengthen the second stage. And that’s not what the study was looking at at all, so it’s not what they found.


Dekker, R. (2018, February 20). Effects of Epidurals on the Second Stage of Labor. Retrieved March 15, 2018, from

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