A new study will assess whether adopting an upright position during the late stage of labour with an epidural gives a greater chance of having a straightforward birth.
The most effective form of pain relief in labour, an epidural analgesia is chosen by up to 30% of women in the UK each year. At present few women who have an epidural are encouraged to be upright in the late stage of labour.
The £2.6m study will involve around 3,000 women. Half will be encouraged by a midwife to adopt an upright posture – including walking, standing, sitting out of bed or sitting bolt upright in bed – right up to the birth, while the remainder will be asked to adopt a lying down position. The results are expected in 2015.
The research has been commissioned by the NHS Health Technology Assessment programme.