For years, workers in hospital maternity wards have claimed an uptick in women going into labor during a full moon. Some studies have shown that correlation is possible, but other more recent ones have demonstrated no link. Overall, theories that lunar phases influence labor are still inconclusive.
Fotolia.com' data-type="modal"> A study found that fewer births occurred during the moon's ascendant phase. Full Moon image by Doug Fleck from Fotolia.com
Rumors exist of hospital emergency and maternity wards being busier during the full moon, but until recently, there's been no explanation as to why, or even whether this is true. Perinatal Education Associates reports that doctors, nurses, midwives and other childbirth professionals have asserted that they see a rise in volume during a full moon.
Fotolia.com' data-type="modal"> A French study indicates one myth could be a reality. moon image by Sebastian Glapinski from Fotolia.com
A 1986 French study published in the Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology studied millions of French births over several decades, and the results showed that more births tended to occur during the moon's descending phase, i.e., the period between the last quarter and the new moon. Fewer births took place in the ascending phase, in the first quarter of the moon.
Fotolia.com' data-type="modal"> Lunar phases may have more effect on second-time mothers. mother with children on grass and bubbles image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com
An Italian study in 1994 showed the moon's influence on spontaneous deliveries is most felt on mothers who have given birth before. Deliveries studied over a three-year period showed a correlation to periods when there is a full moon present.
Fotolia.com' data-type="modal"> Studies have claimed that full-moon labor is a myth. amor maternal image by Leonardo Jerez from Fotolia.com
A 1998 study at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., showed no difference in spontaneous births that took place during the ascending phase or descending phase, and similarly no difference between the number of births that took place during the full and new moons. The study took place over the course of a year. The study's authors claimed that full-moon births are a "myth, not reality."
Fotolia.com' data-type="modal"> Barometric pressure along with the moon influence tides. moon tide image by Tammy Mobley from Fotolia.com
According to Baylor University biologist Paula Burch, Ph.D, barometric pressure may have more of an influence on labor rates than the phases of the moon. More babies are born when the barometric pressure drops, such as when a large storm passes through. Since barometric pressure, combined with the moon's gravitational pull, also changes the tides, this may explain the association with the moon and labor