At Epidural Time: No Boys Allowed?

courtesy of flickr user andrewacomb (creative commons)

courtesy of flickr user andrewacomb (creative commons)

From the annual meeting of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, Washington, DC:

There’s not a lot of humor to be found at an obstetric anesthesiology meeting. But one study presented here today got lots of laughs. Doctors at a hospital in Israel, where it is apparently not standard practice to allow partners of the pregnant women into the delivery room (at least not when the epidural is given) studied the stress levels of pregnant women and their partners at epidural placement time. In this study, all the partners were men. 

Both partners in 84 couples were tested for pulse, blood pressure, and salivary amylase (a measure of stress, apparently) at baseline, and after placement of an epidural either with or without the partners present.

The 41 women whose partners weren’t present during the epidural placement reported significantly less pain during the epidural insertion, significantly less anxiety during the insertion, and a trend toward significantly less anxiety after the epidural was placed, compared with the 43 women whose partners were in the room.

As for the guys, those who were in the room for the epidural had lower salivary amylase levels (more stress, if I understood correctly) than those who waited outside, although this result didn’t quite reach statistical significance.

So, guys, maybe epidural time is a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” time. But I did wonder whether the stress effect would be the same for women with female partners, or if a mom or female friend were present?  A subject for future study, perhaps.

–Heidi Splete (on twitter @hsplete)

1 Comment

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One response to “At Epidural Time: No Boys Allowed?

  1. By the time I received my epidural, I had been in labor several hours (back labor with twins). I didn’t care who was in the room! And the pain of the insertion was nothing compared to the pain I’d been in for hours before that. This seems like an odd thing to study….

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