Researchers using the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) have discovered that women take more time in labor today compared to what they did 50 years ago, various media outlets reported on Friday.

According to Amy Norton of Reuters, the NIH study found that American females spend approximately two to three hours longer, on average, in labor when compared with 1960. Most of that additional time is put in the first stage at work, or the time where the cervix opens until it’s wide enough to allow the mother to begin pushing.

The results, which will be published in a future edition from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG), were consistent, no matter weight, age or ethnicity, even though there would be a tendency for contemporary mothers to be older and heavier than those who’ve birth 50 years ago, said MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer Rachael Rettner.

“Older maternal age and increased BMI (body-mass index, a ratio of weight to height) accounted for a part of the increase. We believe that some aspects of delivery-room practice will also be responsible for this increase,” lead author and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health insurance and Human Development (NICHD). Epidemiologist Dr. Katherine Laughon, told reporters, including HealthDay’s Steven Reinberg, during a business call on Friday afternoon.

According to both Reinberg and Rettner, Laughon and her colleagues analyzed the birth data of nearly 40,000 ladies who had children between 1959 and 1966, in addition to more than 98,000 ladies who delivered from 2002 through 2008. They discovered that 21st century women spent 2.6 hours longer in labor during their first birth and 2.0 hours longer during each subsequent birth, and that they were more prone to take epidurals and 4 times more prone to have a Cesarean delivery than the earlier versions from the 1950s and 1960s.

“Women have been in labor longer [today] since they’re admitted [to the hospital] earlier,” Dr. Michael Cabbad, the chairman of obstetrics/gynecology along with the chief of maternal/fetal medicine at The Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBH) in New York, told HealthDay on Friday. “There is a tendency for women to come to a healthcare facility in an earlier phase of labor because of anxiety about arriving too late.”

The researchers are convinced that more scientific studies are required to pinpoint all the factors accountable for this phenomenon. As Laughon told David, “We weren’t in a position to fully address the potential reasons with this study.”