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Coaching Shortens Labor a Bit, But Does Not Improve It

Coached maternal pushing during second stage of labor may even be harmful in the long term

FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Coaching slightly shortens the second stage of labor but does not offer other advantages and may even harm women's reproductive health in the long run, according to a study in the January issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Steven L. Bloom, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues studied 320 women with uncomplicated labors who did not have epidural analgesia. About half of the women were randomly assigned to labors coached by certified nurse-midwives while the other half were uncoached.

The researchers found the second stage of labor shortened by about 13 minutes in the coached women, but found no other clinically significant differences between the two groups. Although there were no significant differences in neonatal outcomes, the incidence of meconium-stained amniotic fluid was almost twice as high in the coached women (36 versus 20), the researchers found.

"Although associated with a slightly shorter second stage, coached maternal pushing confers no other advantages and withholding such coaching is not harmful," the authors write. "It may be that coaching women to push may even be injurious to the long-term reproductive health of women."

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