Author(s): Plunkett BA, Lin A, Wong CA, Grobman WA, Peaceman AM
OBJECTIVE: To determine if waiting for a strong urge to push in nulliparas with continuous low-concentration epidural analgesia shortens the pushing duration in the second stage. METHODS: Nulliparas with standardized patient-controlled epidural analgesia (0.0625% bupivacaine with fentanyl 2 microg/mL) were randomly assigned to pushing immediately upon complete cervical dilatation (n = 85) or waiting for a strong urge to push (n = 117). Urge to push and patient satisfaction were quantified on 100-mm visual analogue scales. Duration of pushing and total duration of the second stage were analyzed as survival time data. RESULTS: Women who delayed pushing and those who pushed immediately were similar with respect to maternal characteristics. Women who delayed pushing had a stronger urge to push (P <.01) and a longer second stage (P <.05) than women who pushed immediately. There was no significant difference in the time spent pushing (median 57 versus 62 minutes, respectively) or the median level of patient satisfaction (80 mm for both groups). There were no significant differences in the overall rates of cesarean delivery (6% versus 12%, respectively), cesarean delivery during the second stage (2% in each group), spontaneous vaginal delivery (70% versus 69%, respectively), or neonatal or maternal morbidity. CONCLUSION: In nulliparas with continuous low-concentration epidural analgesia, delaying pushing until a strong urge is felt does not reduce the duration of pushing in the second stage of labor.