A new study published in American Society of Anesthesiologists found that lower vitamin D levels were associated with a higher need for epidurals during childbirth.
Many muscles are involved during the process of childbirth, including the uterus. The uterus can lose muscle function and strength if a woman is vitamin D deficient. Without this strength in the uterus, a mother may have a harder time delivering the baby. This could potentially result in a more difficult childbirth, and therefore, more pain for the mother.
Researchers recently conducted the first study to evaluate the relationship between vitamin D status and epidural consumption during childbirth. Epidurals are a commonly used technique to administer anesthesia during childbirth.
The researchers recruited 71 pregnant women for the study. The women’s vitamin D levels were measured at the time of delivery and the women were divided into two groups based on the results of the measurements: the low vitamin D group, with an average vitamin D level of 25.84 ng/ml, and the high vitamin D group, with an average vitamin D level of 43.1 ng/ml.
Then, the researchers compared the average epidural consumption during childbirth between the two groups. They found that the low vitamin D group had a significantly higher epidural consumption rate of 18.25 mg/hour, compared to consumption rate of the high vitamin D group, which was 12.4 mg/hour.
“Given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in US parturients, effective prevention and treatment may have significant impact on decreasing labor pain in millions of women every year,” the researchers concluded.
“Recommendations regarding vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy may need to be revisited.”