Background: The progression of labor and delivery of the fetus is dependent upon uterine contractions and the voluntary effort of abdominal muscle contractions. A good monitor of uterine contractions and pushing is necessary for obstetrical care. Electromyography (EMG) is the underlying basis for contractility of muscle including the myometrium. Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between EMG activity of uterine and abdominal muscles and the duration of the 2nd stage of labor in pregnant women. Methods: EMG of both uterine and abdominal muscles was simultaneously recorded from electrodes placed on the abdominal surface of 45 active 2nd stage-laboring nulliparous patients. EMG was recorded using filters to separate uterine and abdominal EMG signals, and various EMG signal parameters were analyzed. The duration of the 2nd stage of labor and other maternal and fetal characteristics were also recorded. Results: Uterine EMG bursts precede abdominal bursts and are accompanied by feelings of “urge to push” by the patients. Abdominal root mean square (RMS) and power, but not uterine EMG parameters, are reduced (p< 0.005) in patients with longer labors and linear regression analysis demonstrated a negative correlation to the duration of 2nd stage of labor (p < 0.001). Multivariate linear regression analysis of clinical characteristics (fetal weight, body mass index, placental location, etc.) and parameters of EMG showed that only abdominal RMS is negatively correlated with the duration of labor. Conclusions: (1) Uterine and abdominal EMG activities reflect the expulsive involuntary (uterine) and voluntary (abdominal) muscular activities during the 2nd stage of labor. (2) RMS and power of abdominal EMG diminish with longer labor when uterine EMG intensities are similar. (3) Recording of uterine and abdominal muscle activity provides objective evaluation of the muscle activity during the 2nd stage of labor and may aid in the evaluation of any interventions.

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