Women are spending longer in labour

Women now spend longer giving birth than their grandmothers

The time it takes to give birth is increasing with women spending an additional two and a half hours in labour compared to 50 years ago.

The increase may be due to differences in weight and age – modern mothers were heavier and around four years older than their 1960’s counterparts.

Changes in the method of delivery may also play a role with over half of women now having epidurals, compared with just four per cent in the older sample.

But Patrick O’Brien, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says increased labour time is not harmful or worrying.

‘Today’s babies appear to be slightly healthier when they are born and the study showed a large fall in forceps deliveries,’ says O’Brien.

The study, conducted at the National Institute of Child Health in Maryland, used data from 100,000 women who gave birth between 2002 and 2008. Time spent in labour and the method of delivery were then compared to women from 1959 and 1966.

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