Could giving pregnant women bicarbonate of soda during labour help lower caesarean risk?

Yahoo Style UK team
Could giving women bicarbonate of soda during labour help with the birth process? [Photo: Getty]
Could giving women bicarbonate of soda during labour help with the birth process? [Photo: Getty]

Giving pregnant women bicarbonate of soda during labour could boost their chances of having a safe birth and avoid delivering their baby via caesarean, a study suggests.

Each year, thousands of women in the UK don’t progress during labour and are often therefore forced to deliver their babies through emergency C-section.

But according to a leading expert, this number could be significantly reduced with the help of the easily-available household ingredient.

In a new interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Professor Susan Wray from the University of Liverpool explains how bicarbonate of soda can help reduce C-section risk by helping to reduce the acidity around the uterus.

Researchers say that bicarbonate of soda, given in drink form, could help rectify acidity build up around the uterus, which prevents women going into established labour.

The bicarbonate could therefore help reduce the number of women forced to undergo emergency caesarean.

Last year, Professor Wray teamed up with researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden to conduct a study testing bicarbonate of soda’s effect on C-section risk.

Could the simple household ingredient decrease the risk of having a caesarean section? [Photo: Getty]
Could the simple household ingredient decrease the risk of having a caesarean section? [Photo: Getty]

The study involved women with a clinical diagnosis of a failure to progress with natural labour.

Half the women were given standard treatment – a drug called oxytocin that is shown to help bring on contractions.

The other half were given a drink containing bicarbonate, and then after an hour, the oxytocin treatment.

So the only difference in the two groups was the bicarbonate of soda treatment.

Speaking about the results, Professor Wray said: “The outcome was really amazing. We were able to significantly increase the number of women having a spontaneous vaginal delivery and avoiding the emergency c-section.

“And not by just a few per cent, but by around 17 to 20 per cent.”

Professor Wray went on to explain that the bicarbonates used in the study were readily and cheaply available in supermarkets, as they are currently used as an antacid, or hangover treatment.

Speaking of the future potential for aiding women in birth researchers said: “This simple, low cost treatment has the potential to improve maternal morbidity and satisfaction worldwide.”

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