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Study to look at effects of epidural birthing position


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.


Readers' comments (2)


    I think this research ia important as so many women are forced to adopt a lying down position for their birth, which they often complain not to be as comfortable as the crouching / standing / straight back position. I look forward to the results of this research and hope that it highlights the need to push (as it were) for upright positions in future births.

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  • I also look forward to the study results with anticipation. The upright position for delivery, as in standing is wonderful, but as for the straight back sitting position in bed, I am not so convinced.
    I worked on labour and delivery in the USA for 2 yrs, 90% of the women in that hospital had epidurals, the lying position was favoured for delivery and I saw only 2 vaccum deliveries. These were due to fetal compromise in 2nd stage.

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