Background: Vaginal application of lubricant during labor has been studied to shorten the length of the second stage of labor.Objective: To evaluate whether vaginal application of lubricant shortens the second stage of labor.Data sources: Electronic databases were searched from their inception until February 2018. No restrictions for language or geographic location were applied.Study eligibility criteria: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the use of lubricant of the vaginal canal (i.e. intervention group) with a control group (i.e. no lubricant) in pregnant women with singleton gestation and cephalic presentation undergoing spontaneous vaginal delivery at term. Trials on other interventions that might impact second stage of labor (pushing methods, perineal massage, Ritgen's maneuver, etc.) were not included.Study appraisal and synthesis methods: All analyses were done using an intention-to-treat approach. The primary outcome was the length of the second stage of labor. Pooled analysis was performed using the random-effects model of DerSimonian and Laird to produce summary treatment effects in terms of mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI).Tabulation, integration, and results: Three RCTs including 512 women evaluating the effect of lubricant application during labor were included in the meta-analysis. All trials included pregnant women with singleton gestations in cephalic presentation at term undergoing spontaneous vaginal delivery. One trial included only nulliparous women, while the other two included both nulliparous and multiparous women. Lubricant application started in the first stage before the active phase of labor, and was done intermittently by the midwife or the physician. A sterile gel was applied into the vaginal canal manually or with an applicator. All trials used water-soluble gel. The quantity of gel used was about 2-5 ml for each vaginal examination. There were no statistically significant differences, comparing women who received lubricant gel during labor with those who did not, in the lengths of second stage of labor (MD -7.11 min, 95% CI -15.60 to 1.38), of the first stage of labor, or of the active phase of the first stage of labor. No between-group differences were noticed in the risk of perineal lacerations, mode of delivery, and in the neonatal outcomes.Conclusion: Vaginal application of lubricant during labor does not reduce the length of the second stage of labor in pregnant women with singleton gestations undergoing an attempt at spontaneous vaginal delivery at term.
Keywords: Cesarean; episiotomy; meta-analysis; perineal laceration; review.