Why do some women have easier births?

Scientists strive to find out what causes problems in labour and how they can be stopped

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Childbirth, like babies, comes in all different shapes and sizes, but scientists in Liverpool are keen to find more ways to predict how a birth is going to be.

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The Liverpool-based scientists say we wouldn’t put up with such irregularities with any other organ and are already making headway in finding some predictors for how a birth will be. The level of lactic acid in the uterus and the bloodstream for example can be used to determine the success of a natural birth, with excess acid linked to contraction problems.

The key for researchers, based at the Centre for Better Births at Liverpool (as part of the University of Liverpool), is to be in a position to spot signs of premature labour, particularly among women expecting twins. Plus, they hope to uncover reasons behind the increase in emergency caesarean births – which has risen by almost 50 per cent in the last 30 years.

Professor and director Susan Wray says, “We need to have predictors – when it will be a difficult birth, when a woman might go into early labour, for example,” reports the BBC.

The research is being funded by children’s charity Sparks, and it’s hoped that the findings could eventually lead to new drugs which could help prevent the onset of early labour and help lower the number of premature babies.

With one in 13 babies born prematurely, Professor Wray says the holy grail is finding a blood test that predicts which women are at risk of giving birth prematurely.

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