Extending the second stage of labor in nulliparous women with epidural analgesia: a cost-effectiveness analysis

Eleanor M. Schmidt, Alyssa R. Hersh, Ashley E. Skeith, Methodius G. Tuuli, Alison G. Cahill, Aaron B. Caughey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to evaluate maternal outcomes with an extended second stage of labor and determine if an extended second stage is cost effective. This theoretical model evaluated expectant management to 4 h compared to delivery at 3 h in the setting of a prolonged second stage of labor in nulliparous women with epidural analgesia. In our theoretical cohort of 165,000 women, we found that an extended second stage resulted in 53,268 more spontaneous vaginal deliveries, 14,163 fewer operative vaginal deliveries, and 39,105 fewer cesarean deliveries. This approach also resulted in 1 fewer instance of maternal death. An extended second stage, however, led to 14,025 more cases of chorioamnionitis, 1699 more episodes of postpartum hemorrhage requiring transfusion, and 119 more severe perineal lacerations, suggesting that while an extended second stage of labor results in overall improved maternal outcomes, there are tradeoffs. Expectant management to 4 h was the dominant strategy in the model, as it saved over $114 million US dollars and resulted in 4000 additional QALYs over our theoretical cohort. Sensitivity analysis indicated that expectant management until 4 h was cost-effective as long as the probability of cesarean delivery at 4 h was below 41.8%, and was the dominant strategy below 38.2% (baseline input: 19.5%). Multivariable sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the model was robust over a wide range of assumptions. Expectant management of the second stage of labor until 4 h is a cost-effective strategy to prevent primary cesarean deliveries, decrease costs, and improve some maternal outcomes, despite tradeoffs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3495-3501
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2022


  • Cesarean delivery
  • cost-effectiveness analysis
  • decision analysis
  • labor
  • nulliparous women
  • obstetrics
  • prolonged second stage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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