New Labor Tool Could Mean Fewer C-sections for First-Time Moms

BySarah Yang
Mar 2012
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Researchers from Ohio State University and University of Colorado Denver have created a new labor-tracking tool, called a partograph that may help reduce the use of unnecessary intervention during labor and lower the number of c-sections performed on moms who have low-risk pregnancies. Recent findings have found that labor is not a linear process, as previously thought, but starts slow and accelerates gradually as labor advances. According to medical experts, the diagnosis of “slow labor” (called dystocia) may be made too often — and first-time moms (whose labor typically progresses more slowly that more experienced moms’ does) — may be getting needless c-sections because of an inaccurate diagnosis.

With a partograph, the doctor can plot on a printed graph the cervical dilation and the baby’s descent to see if labor is progressing normally. This tool is for in-hospital use on first-time moms whose labor started naturally. Researchers hope that the graph can be used on a computer or as a smartphone application and believe that using it could mean a more accurate measure of mom’s labor progress, which means fewer incorrect dystocia diagnoses. Typically, women with dystocia are treated with oxytocin (aka Pitocin) to speed up the labor, or a c-section to deliver the baby quickly. Fewer diagnoses could mean fewer of those interventions. With the new tool, the research authors believe oxytocin interventions will drop more than 50 percent and c-sections performed because of dystocia would decrease by 50 percent.

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