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When you are ready to have your baby, you'll go through labor. Contractions let you know labor is starting. When contractions are five minutes apart, your body is ready to push the baby out.

During the first stage of labor, your cervix slowly opens, or dilates, to about 4 inches wide. At the same time, it becomes thinner. This is called effacement. You shouldn't push until your uterus is fully effaced and dilated. When it is, the baby delivery stage starts. Crowning is when your baby's scalp comes into view. Shortly afterward, your baby is born. The placenta that nourished the baby follows.

Mothers and babies are monitored closely during labor. Most women are healthy enough to have a baby through normal vaginal delivery, meaning that the baby comes down the birth canal without surgery. If there are complications, the baby may need to be delivered surgically by a Cesarean section.
New study finds link between dyspareunia and mode of delivery

New study finds link between dyspareunia and mode of delivery

Operative birth is associated with persisting pain during or after sexual intercourse, known as dyspareunia, suggests a new study published today (21 January) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. [More]
New research on safest way to position women during labor

New research on safest way to position women during labor

New research is challenging what many obstetricians and physician anesthesiologists believe is the best way to position women during labor. According to a study published in the February issue of Anesthesiology, the official medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the traditional practice of positioning women on their side, with hips tilted at 15 degrees, during labor does not effectively reduce compression of the inferior vena cava, a large vein located near the abdominal area that returns blood to the heart, as previously thought. [More]
Prenatal program enhances couples' co-parenting relationship, improves childhood outcomes

Prenatal program enhances couples' co-parenting relationship, improves childhood outcomes

Children whose parents participated in a prenatal program aimed at enhancing couples' co-parenting relationship were better adjusted at age seven than children whose parents were assigned to a control group, according to Penn State researchers. [More]
Controlling acute and chronic pain in women

Controlling acute and chronic pain in women

Despite the variety of effective treatments, and physicians who specialize in treating pain, women often suffer unnecessarily from conditions ranging from backaches to pain after cancer surgery, and also treat their pain with medications that may be ineffective and possibly harmful, according to a review of research related to women and pain by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. [More]
Women with postpartum depression during pregnancy may face greater risk, study finds

Women with postpartum depression during pregnancy may face greater risk, study finds

When it comes to postpartum depression, one size does not fit all, according to a new study led by University of North Carolina School of Medicine researchers. [More]
Medical co-morbidities associated with direct maternal deaths in the UK

Medical co-morbidities associated with direct maternal deaths in the UK

Medical co-morbidities, when women have one or more medical conditions, are found to be an important factor associated with direct maternal deaths, suggests a new study published today (9 January) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG). [More]
Injectable hormonal contraceptive appears to increase HIV risk in women

Injectable hormonal contraceptive appears to increase HIV risk in women

Women using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), commonly known as Depo-Provera or the birth control shot, have a moderately increased risk of becoming infected with HIV, a large meta-analysis of 12 studies involving more than 39 500 women published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases has found. Other forms of hormonal contraception, including oral contraceptive pills, do not appear to increase this risk. [More]
Multiple micronutrients for pregnant women does not reduce infant mortality compared to iron-folic acid

Multiple micronutrients for pregnant women does not reduce infant mortality compared to iron-folic acid

In Bangladesh, daily maternal supplementation of multiple micronutrients compared to iron-folic acid before and after childbirth did not reduce all-cause infant mortality to age 6 months, but did result in significant reductions in preterm birth and low birth weight, according to a study in the December 24/31 issue of JAMA. [More]
SLU investigators find promising candidates for new herpes virus treatments

SLU investigators find promising candidates for new herpes virus treatments

Saint Louis University research findings published in the December issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy report a family of molecules known as nucleotidyltransferase superfamily (NTS) enzyme inhibitors are promising candidates for new herpes virus treatments. [More]
Lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene kills mothers and newborns

Lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene kills mothers and newborns

WaterAid and the London School of Hygiene &Tropical Medicine today join the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, SHARE Research Consortium and other organisations in a call to protect the lives of new mothers and their babies, by improving access to safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities and homes. [More]
Smaller blood transfusions during surgeries better for patients with heart disease

Smaller blood transfusions during surgeries better for patients with heart disease

Patients with heart disease who receive transfusions during surgeries do just as well with smaller amounts of blood and face no greater risk of dying from other diseases than patients who received more blood, according to a new Rutgers study. [More]
Reductions in government healthcare spending in the EU linked to increased maternal mortality rates

Reductions in government healthcare spending in the EU linked to increased maternal mortality rates

Reductions in government healthcare spending in the European Union are associated with increased maternal mortality rates, suggests a new paper published today (10 December) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. However, if skilled birth attendants are in place, the association disappears, highlighting the potential importance of maternal care, finds the research. [More]
New study details weight loss patterns of breastfed newborns

New study details weight loss patterns of breastfed newborns

Using weights obtained from over 100,000 Northern California babies, a new study is the first to detail the weight loss patterns of exclusively breastfed newborns. The results show that some breastfed babies lose weight faster and for a longer period than was previously recognized. [More]
Opioid abuse in pregnant women increases 127% in 14 years

Opioid abuse in pregnant women increases 127% in 14 years

The number of pregnant women who abuse or are dependent on opioids (narcotics) jumped 127 percent in 14 years, leading to an increased risk of maternal death and stillbirth among other serious problems, according to a review of more than 57 million American women admitted for delivery. [More]
Hispanics hospitalized less than other ethnic groups, study finds

Hispanics hospitalized less than other ethnic groups, study finds

For nearly three decades, researchers have pondered the Hispanic Mortality Paradox -- why Hispanics in the U.S. tend to outlive non-Hispanic whites by several years, despite having, in general, lower income and educational attainment levels that are associated with shorter lives. [More]
Preterm birth becomes world's number one killer of young children

Preterm birth becomes world's number one killer of young children

For the first time in history, the complications of preterm birth outrank all other causes as the world's number one killer of young children. [More]

Epileptic mothers in the dark about pregnancy risk?

A new study has highlighted the need for more research into the safety of using anti-epileptic drugs during pregnancy. [More]
'Mentor Mothers' program improves perinatal health outcomes in South Africa

'Mentor Mothers' program improves perinatal health outcomes in South Africa

The incidence of HIV infection in South Africa tops that of any nation in the world, with some 6 million of the country's nearly 50 million residents infected. Sadly, young women — and particularly young pregnant women — suffer some of the highest rates of HIV infection. More than one-fourth of pregnant South African women are infected with the virus; in some communities, the infection rates are even higher. [More]
Epidural and spinal anesthesia safe for relieving pain during childbirth

Epidural and spinal anesthesia safe for relieving pain during childbirth

Women seeking pain relief during childbirth should be comforted to know that epidural and spinal anesthesia are extremely safe, suggests a study of more than 80,000 women that reviewed anesthesia complications during obstetrical care. [More]
Pregnant women with low vitamin D levels experience more pain during labor

Pregnant women with low vitamin D levels experience more pain during labor

Pregnant women with low vitamin D levels experience an increased amount of pain during labor, according to a study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2014 annual meeting. Vitamin D deficiency has long been associated with depression and pain, but this is the first study to demonstrate its association with increased consumption of pain medication during childbirth. [More]