Does an Epidural Speed Labor and Delivery?
In general, an epidural will either have no effect on labor and delivery or slow it slightly. Based on a recent study done at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, epidural anesthesia tended to increase the length of labor and delivery by approximately 45 minutes. But even though the length of the labor was increased, there was no commensurate increase in the rate of Cesarean delivery.
I tell my patients that in most cases they will get superior pain relief with an epidural and still get the same chance at a vaginal delivery as with other forms of pain relief, but that there may be a small increase in the length of labor and delivery.