Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Today's women 'in labour longer'


New research has found women today spend much longer in labour than their counterparts 50 years ago.

The survey looked at the birth experiences of 150,000 women based at an American health clinic between 2002 and 2008.

Scientists compared timings of labour and methods of delivery to a sample of women from 1959 to 1966.

The results showed first-time mothers today spend an average of two and a half hours longer in labour than their mothers' generation.

Possible reasons for this may be that modern women are on average four years older when they first go into labour, compared to their 1960s counterparts. They also weigh more, both before and after birth. Modern babies are also heavier.

Other contributing factors include the way in which hospitals now deliver babies.

Just four percent of women underwent epidurals 50 years ago, compared to more than half of women in labour today. The method eases pain but prolongs labour by around 40 to 90 minutes.

"Older maternal age and increased BMI accounted for a part of the increase," researcher Katherine Laughon said at a news conference announcing the results. "We believe that some aspects of delivery-room practice are also responsible for this increase."

What do you think? Do women of today have it harder - whether with longer labours or beyond? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments section below.



Sloth photobombs holiday snap


Hot new books of April


Cheryl Cole's life in beauty



“It’s distasteful and offensive”: Katie Piper slams Halloween make-up

The acid attack survivor and TV star spoke out about fake scars and disfigurements

by Moya Crockett
28 Oct 2016

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Cindy Crawford's Halloween throwback to Alexa Chung's wild adventure

by Nicola Colyer
28 Oct 2016

Is this the Nineties girl band reunion we’ve been waiting for?

We don’t think you can handle this.

by Moya Crockett
28 Oct 2016

Pussy Riot’s new single is pro-vaginas and anti-Trump

“The idea of powerful female sexuality is much bigger than any populist megalomaniac man.”

by Moya Crockett
27 Oct 2016

Mamma Mia! ABBA confirm plans to reunite for “live experience” in 2018

All four of the original Dancing Queens are on board

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

Bake Off’s Mary Berry on her TV reunion with Mel and Sue

The future for these GBBO stars is very bright indeed…

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

Lady Gaga fans, the full Carpool Karaoke video is beyond incredible

James Corden’s face says it all, really

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Oct 2016

Sorry Mel C, Little Mix don't want you to be their mum

You can be ours though

by Anna Pollitt
26 Oct 2016

This Instagram star's honest selfie has gone viral

A glimpse behind the filtered curtain

by Amy Swales
26 Oct 2016

The Alexander McQueen biopic just cast the perfect Hollywood star

Another British bad boy.

by Moya Crockett
26 Oct 2016