The rational management of labor

M. A. Smith, M. T. Ruffin IV, L. A. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Some practices and procedures that are common during the management of childbirth lack proof of efficacy, and some have adverse effects. The practice of withholding food and liquids and using intravenous fluids during labor may pose risks such as fluid overload, and maternal and fetal hyperglycemia. Enemas should be reserved for women with painful constipation. Evidence does not support the value of shaving the perineal area. Nonpharmacologic measures to control pain during labor are safe and moderately effective. Pharmacologic methods of analgesia and anesthesia provide good pain relief but pose significant risks. Continuous electronic fetal monitoring should be considered a diagnostic procedure, not a screening procedure. Amniotomy may shorten labor but can result in abnormally high uterine forces, infection, umbilical cord prolapse and fetal laceration. Position changes and alternative birth positions promote greater comfort and efficiency during labor. Finally, episiotomy has not been shown to reduce severe lacerations or prevent pelvic relaxation, and use of this procedure should be limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1471-1481
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican family physician
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Family Practice


Dive into the research topics of 'The rational management of labor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this