Health Watch -- Women's Health: Labor Coaching

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


We're talking about women's health this week on Health Watch. Labor coaching has been a common part of modern childbirth, but it may not be as helpful as was previously believed. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas recently reported that labor coaching — where a coach encourages the woman to push during contractions — only shortens the second stage of labor by about 13 minutes. Meanwhile, it's possible that coaching increases the mother's risk for bladder problems following labor. These problems, which may not be permanent, include a smaller bladder capacity.

Dr. Steven Bloom, the UT Southwestern obstetrician and gynecologist who led the study, says it may be better for women in labor to just do whatever's comfortable for them — whatever comes naturally. More study is planned to determine the permanence of the bladder problems after labor.

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February 2006

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