Prolonged Labor: Failure to Progress
Prolonged labor may also be called failure to progress. It is when labor lasts for 20 hours or more for first time mothers or 14 hours or more for women who have previously given birth. If labor fails to progress during the latent phase during the first stage of labor , it can be draining but rarely leads to complications. However, when prolonged labor occurs during the active stage of labor, there is a cause for concern.
What are the causes of prolonged labor ?
There are a number of causes of prolonged labor. Some of which include :
- baby being to large to pass through the birth canal
- birth canal too small for baby to move through
- pregnant woman’s pelvis too small
- baby in an abnormal position
- weak uterine contractions
- carrying multiples
Other causes include psychological factors such as stress, worry or fear. Certain pain medication may also slow or weaken contractions.
How is prolonged labor treated ?
If labor is failing to progress, you may be asked to rest and relax while the cervix ripens. You may also be given medications to help with labor pain and make you relaxed.
Sometimes changing positions, taking a walk standing or squatting may help the process along.
If your doctor feels that you need stronger contractions, he may give you Pitocin which is medication that speeds up contractions and makes them stronger.
If your baby is already in the birth canal, your health care provider will pull the baby through the birth canal with special tools called forceps or a vacuum device.
If the baby is too big or medication is not speeding up contractions, you may need a c-section.
What are some of the risks of prolonged labor ?
Labor failing to progress can be dangerous for your baby. It may result in :
- abnormal heart rhythm in the baby
- low oxygen levels for the baby
- uterine infection
It may also cause your baby to be in distress , in which case you may need an emergency c-section.
Managing prolonged and obstructed labour. World Health organization WHO . http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/3_9241546662/en/. Accessed October 22, 2014
Prolonged pregnancy. WebMD.http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/prolonged-labor-causes-treatments. Accessed October 22, 2014