Pumping up the pelvic floor muscles reduces pushing during labor

November 1, 2004

Pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy can prevent prolonged stage II labor in one out of every eight pregnant women, according to a randomized, controlled trial of 300 healthy, nulliparous women from Norway.

Pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy can prevent prolonged stage II labor in one out of every eight pregnant women, according to a randomized, controlled trial of 300 healthy, nulliparous women from Norway.

Researchers developed a structured training program consisting of exercises for pelvic floor muscles to be executed between the 20th and 36th weeks of pregnancy.

While the duration of labor was not significantly shorter (40 vs.45 minutes; P=0.06), 24% of the women randomized to the exercises versus 38% of the women in the control group had to actively push in the second stage of labor for more than 60 minutes. The results suggest that the increased strength, flexibility, and control provided by the exercises facilitate rather than obstruct labor.