‘Yes, You Can Have Your Epidural Now’

Women have often been told that early epidurals slow down labor, and that they have to wait for relief until their cervix has dilated to at least 4 centimeters. But a new study from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine supports guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that women should be offered epidurals on demand.

Researchers reviewing data from an Army medical center that switched from intravenous pain relief to epidurals found that early epidurals slowed cervical dilation only from 4 to 5 centimeters, and otherwise did not impact dilation any more than standard pain-relief injections. The findings were reported in the July edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Current ACOG guidelines state that “a woman’s request for pain relief during any stage of labor is sufficient medical indication to provide it.”

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