Will an epidural slow down my labor?
There are three stages of labor.
The first stage of labor begins when you start having regular contractions that cause the cervix, the outlet at the base of the uterus through which the baby passes into the vagina, to dilate (open up). The first stage of labor ends when the cervix is fully dilated to 10 cm. The second stage of labor, also known as the pushing stage, begins when the cervix is fully dilated to 10 cm and ends with delivery of your baby. The third stage of labor is the interval between the birth of your baby and delivery of the placenta.
Studies have shown that epidurals do not significantly prolong the first stage of labor. Epidurals may prolong the second stage of labor by 15 minutes. However, studies that have shown epidurals to prolong the second stage of labor used much higher doses of medication than are used today.