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EPIDURAL STUDY: US re­searchers have found epidu­rals do not slow the sec­ond stage of labour. Be­cause a longer du­ra­tion of this stage is as­so­ci­ated with ad­verse out­comes, ob­ste­tri­cians rou­tinely re­duce or dis­con­tinue epidural pain man­age­ment in an ef­fort to ex­pe­dite this main stage of labour, re­searchers said. But they sug­gest that this prac­tice could be out of date. The new study, pub­lished in the Jour­nal Ob­stet­rics & Gyne­col­ogy, found that an epidural has no ef­fect on du­ra­tion of sec­ond stage of labour — the stage which starts when a wo­man’s cervix has di­lated 10cm and ends when her baby is born — com­pared with placebo. LIS­TEN UP: The best way to pick up on a per­son’s emo­tions is to close your eyes and lis­ten to them talk, a study sug­gests. Peo­ple tend to read emo­tions more ac­cu­rately when they lis­ten and don’t look. The study, pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion’s jour­nal Amer­i­can Psy­chol­o­gist, found that block­ing out other senses and us­ing voice-only com­mu­ni­ca­tion “elic­its higher rates of em­pathic ac­cu­racy”. “Lis­ten­ing mat­ters. Ac­tu­ally con­sid­er­ing what peo­ple are say­ing and the ways in which they say it can, I be­lieve, lead to im­proved un­der­stand­ing of oth­ers at work or in your per­sonal re­la­tion­ships,” said Michael Kraus, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of or­gan­i­sa­tional be­hav­iour at Yale Univer­sity. PAIN THRESH­OLD: Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have sug­gested that hypochon­dri­acs are more sus­cep­ti­ble to pain and have a lower thresh­old or tol­er­ance for it than those who have no health anx­i­ety. But a new study from the Univer­sity of Buck­ing­ham psy­chol­ogy depart­ment found that a whole range of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enced pain in the same way — and per­son­al­ity ap­pears to have no bear­ing on it. Pub­lished in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Pain, ex­perts an­a­lysed the re­ac­tions of 76 peo­ple who were told they were go­ing to have their hand plunged into freez­ing water. They were then screened for how long it took them to re­port the first signs of pain, and for how long they could keep their hand sub­merged be­fore be­ing un­able to bear it any longer. The re­sults showed that even those peo­ple who, be­fore the test, felt very anx­ious about the pain they would ex­pe­ri­ence were in sim­i­lar amounts of pain to those who were more re­laxed.

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