A sugar rush helps first-time mums being induced have a shorter labour, a new study found.
Giving pregnant mothers an intravenous drip of glucose cuts labour by more than an hour and a quarter.
More than a fifth of all labours are induced in the UK because the baby is overdue, the labour is prolonged or if there a risk to the mother or baby’s health.
The NHS offers induction to all women who don’t go into labour naturally by 42 weeks, as there is a higher risk of stillbirth or problems for the baby.
Yet few medical interventions are known to shorten labour duration.
But because muscle performance is known to be improved by glucose Canadian researchers tested whether adding glucose to the intravenous hydration solution women receive during labour could accelerate labour.
The study by the Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec, involved 190 pregnant women given either a standard hydration solution containing salt and water or a solution containing glucose, salt and water.
The IV drip was given for the whole duration of induction, labour and delivery before analysing the total time to birth.
The researchers also looked at duration of second active stage of labour, mode of delivery and newborn APGAR score - a simple, painless and effective check used by midwives and doctors to assess a newborn’s health.
The study found the duration of first and second stage of labour was nearly half an hour shorter in the group given a sugar compared to those given a normal drip - 441 minutes compared to 505 minutes.
The proportion of patients delivered at 200 minutes - three hours and 20 minutes - was 19 per cent in the sugar group compared to eight per cent in the normal saline group.
The proportion of patients delivered at 450 minutes was 75 per cent in the sugar group versus 61 per cent in the normal saline group.
There were no difference in the rate of cesarean section and APGAR score.
Dr Josianne Pare at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology said: “We found that the median duration of labour was 76 minutes shorter in the group of women receiving glucose.
“There was no difference in the mode of delivery (cesarean section, forceps, etc.), or the neonatal well-being measures.
“Glucose supplementation therefore significantly reduces the total length of labour without increasing the rate of complication.
“This is great news for women experiencing induced labour.
“Glucose supplementation significantly reduces the length of the first and second stages of labour without increasing the rate of complication in induced, nulliparous women.
“Given the low cost and the safety of this intervention, glucose should be used as the default solute during labour.”
The findings will be presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting.