FRIDAY, Feb. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The second stage of labor is significantly longer for both nulliparous and multiparous women receiving an epidural, according to a study published online February 4 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Yvonne W. Cheng, MD, PhD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed data from a cohort of 42,268 women who delivered vaginally with normal neonatal outcomes. Comparisons were made for the median lengths and 95th percentiles of second stage of labor by epidural use.

For nulliparous women, the researchers found that the 95th percentile length of second stage was 197 minutes without epidural and 336 minutes with epidural (difference, two hours and 19 minutes; P<0.001). For multiparous women, the corresponding 95th percentile lengths were 81 and 255 minutes (difference, two hours and 54 minutes; P<0.001).

“Although recommendations for intervention during the second stage of labor have been made based on a one-hour difference in the setting of epidural use, it appears that the 95th percentile duration is actually more than two hours longer with epidural during labor for both nulliparous and multiparous women,” the authors write.

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