It occurred to me recently, while presenting on the topic of labour progress, that there is a blog post that I use frequently as a reference when I’m speaking about labour and birth – in particular, the question of what helps and hinders early labour – but which I don’t think I have ever mentioned on my blog. And I was already thinking that the time had come to rectify that, because it offers a really interesting theory which should be widely discussed, when another related post appeared, so now I have double the reason to want to share this further.
Written by ‘the Undercover Midwife’*, this 2015 blog post on Paracetamol and Labour posited the theory that there is a correlation between the increase (as observed by the writer and other midwives) in women having long latent (or prodromal, if you’re in the US) phases of their labour and advice to take paracetamol, often repeatedly, during this time.
“I just do not remember, either as an NHS or independent midwife in the 1980s and 1990s, women having such long exhausting and problematic latent phases as they do now. I also don’t remember anyone telling women to “take a couple of paracetamol”. Recently I informally supported someone at home who had had 4 or 5 days of latent labour. I asked her about her paracetamol intake and was shocked to find that she had consumed 25 to 30 grams of paracetamol over that period. The midwives she had been ringing on the local “triage unit”, each one different, had told her to take paracetamol regularly and this she had done. I asked if it was helping and she said it wasn’t, so I suggested she stop taking it which she did. Quite apart from the impact on the liver, could the ubiquitous advice to take paracetamol be impacting on labour and, more particularly be affecting, or even creating, the latent phase of labour as we have come to know it today?”
Quite. This is a great blog post and a truly interesting theory. If you haven’t yet read and pondered it, I urge you to head over to The Undercover Midwife and read the whole post so you can find out more about it for yourself You might also be interested in this newer post about paracetamol and pregnancy as well 🙂
* P.S. No, it’s not me. A good number of people have asked me over the years if I am the Undercover Midwife and no, I am not. It takes me enough time to look after and write my own blog, let alone another one 😉 ).