April 5th, 2020

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Effect of Epidural Analgesia on the Primary Cesarean Section and Forceps Delivery Rates
Authors:  Margaret Echt, M.D., Wallace Begneaud, M.D., and Douglas Montgomery, M.D.
  OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of introducing epidural analgesia for labor pain relief on the primary cesarean and forceps delivery rates.

STUDY DESIGN: The control group consisted of 1,720 women who delivered on a charity hospital service between September 1, 1992, and August 31, 1993; epidural analgesia was not available for this cohort of patients. The study group consisted of 1,442 patients who delivered on the same service between September 1, 1993, and August 31, 1994; elective epidural analgesia for labor pain relief was available for this cohort of patients. A computerized obstetric database was analyzed to compare the two groups regarding demographics, parity, pregnancy complications, labor characteristics, type of delivery, low birth weight incidence and five-minute Apgar scores.

RESULTS: The two groups were similar with respect to demographics and pregnancy complications. No control group patient received epidural analgesia for labor pain relief; 734 of 1,285 (57%) laboring patients in the study group elected epidural analgesia for pain relief. The primary cesarean delivery rate for the control group was 9.6% and for the study group 11.0% (not statistically significant). The control group had 34 (2.0%) forceps deliveries and the study group, 88 (6.1%), for a statistically significant difference. There were significantly more vaginal births after cesarean in the study group (42 vs. 26).

CONCLUSION: Epidural analgesia was not associated with an increase in the primary cesarean delivery rate but was associated with an increase in the operative vaginal delivery rate. (J Reprod Med 2000;45:557-561)
Keywords:  epidural analgesia, cesarean section, obstetrical forceps
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