A recent review, published by the Cochrane Library, found that whether a first-time mother gets an epidural early or late in labor makes no difference in the birth outcome.
An epidural is an injection of medicine, given just outside of the spinal column, to relieve the pain of childbirth.
The review “found no clinically meaningful difference between the early and late epidural groups in the risk for cesarean section or forceps birth, no difference in the length of labor, and no difference in Apgar scores of the babies,” according to The New York Times.
Data was pooled from nine randomized studies of early and late epidurals in 15,752 first-time mothers. The ‘early’ mothers received an epidural when their cervix was dilated less than four to five centimeters, and those who received an epidural late were dilated more than four to five centimeters.
The authors’ research analysis concluded that the best time for first-time mothers to receive an epidural is whenever they request one.