Routine Use of Enemas During Labor Discouraged

Meta-analysis finds that enemas do not lower maternal or neonatal infection rates

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Enemas administered during the first stage of labor do not appear to decrease rates of maternal perineal or neonatal infections, and do not affect women's satisfaction, and as such their routine use during labor is not recommended, reports a review published online Oct. 17 in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 2007.

Ludovic Reveiz, M.D., of Fundacion Universitaria Sanitas in Bogota, Colombia, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of randomized control trials studying the use of enemas during the first stage of labor.

Three randomized controlled trials involving 1,765 women met inclusion criteria. There was no significant difference between enema and control groups in rates of infection in women or newborns after one month follow-up. One trial reported a significant shortening of labor associated with enemas (409 minutes with enemas versus 460 minutes without), but another trial, which adjusted for parity, did not reach significance (515 minutes with enemas versus 585 without). One trial assessing maternal satisfaction reported no significant difference between the two groups.

"This review found that enemas did not improve puerperal or neonatal infection rates, episiotomy dehiscence rates or maternal satisfaction. Therefore, their use is unlikely to benefit women or newborn children. These findings should discourage the routine use of enemas during labor," the authors conclude.

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