Of course, most women don’t plan when they are going to give birth. And they don’t have a say in when the nurses’ or doctors’ shifts start and end. But for health professionals and hospitals, the study results, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and coming from the University of Texas at Austin can be a wake-up call.
Researchers assessed 24,506 unscheduled delivers in the United Kingdom from 2008 to 2013. The obstetricians worked on the same labor and delivery ward for all of these deliveries and they worked 12 hours shifts during this five year period.
Researchers found that the most dangerous time to give birth is during the 9th hour of the 12 hour shift. This is when the risk of maternal blood loss and lower blood oxygen levels in the womb are highest.
As lead author Dr. James Scott explained,
“There are all sorts of studies about the timing of deliveries, but what nobody had looked at before is whether there is there some kind of proxy for how fatigued the doctors are.”
Interestingly, the findings did not see a difference between day and night deliveries, weekday versus weekend deliveries, vaginal versus Caesarean or junior versus senior doctor status.