First-time mothers who opt for an epidural while they are in labour at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital are to be asked to take part in a study that could help to make births easier and safer for future generations.
The QEH is the first NHS maternity unit in the East of England to join the Bumpes’ study, which is being co-ordinated across the country by University College London, and is funded by NHS Health and Technology.
Bumpes originally stood for Birth in the Upright Maternal Position, Epidural in the Second stage – although the terms of reference have been widened since the initial study began in Birmingham in 2010.
It was launched at the QEH on Monday and aims to recruit around 100 women a month to take part in the study.
This will help to discover if assisting an epidural patient to adopt a different position during labour will induce a natural birth without the need for using surgical instruments.
The study at the QEH is being led by obstetric anaesthetist Dr Anoop Surendran and research midwife Rachel McCabe.
More than 2,000 babies a year are born at the QEH, with around 28 per cent of mothers opting for an epidural – an injection into the spine to numb nerves in the lower part of the body, reducing pain. At least 80per cent of this group are first-time mothers.
Dr Surendran said: “During the study we will be helping mothers to become more mobile during labour, to adopt different positions and to walk about.
“This is to see if mobilisation of the mother will have an effect on reducing the instrument delivery rate.
“The view is that the more mobile the mother, the better she is able to push the baby out naturally.”
Midwife Rachel McCabe said: “We won’t be trying to force an epidural on mothers just for the sake of the study.
“We will only approach first-time mothers who have already requested an epidural. Data from the study will be recorded by the midwife.”
The study at the QEH was launched yesterday. Mothers will be asked while they are in epidural-assisted labour if they will consent to take part in the study. Those who agree will also be followed-up a year later, to investigate any longer term effects from the method of birth.
“I want to help improve the outcome for women in labour, with a view to reducing the long-term complications.”