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    Labour & Delivery

    What Are the Causes and Different Stages of Prolonged Labor (Delayed Birth)?

    Updated on 2 November 2022

    Expert Verified

    Dr. Ritu S Santwani

    Infertility treatment, Cosmetology, Recurrent abortion treatment, Menopause, Hysteroscopy & colposcopy, PCOS/PCOD, Sexual health - M.D (Obst & Gynaec)| FICOG, FIAOG, AMRCOG, ART-Singapore

    Every pregnancy is different and that includes labor and delivery. Each woman has a unique labor experience – for some, the baby comes pretty fast while many others are not so lucky. It is important to know the various labor issues that can be troublesome and prolonged labor is one such condition. A prolonged labor is when a pregnant woman remains in labor for a longer than normal time and labor is either slow or is not happening. Prolonged labor can not only be a cause of severe stress and pain but can also be dangerous to your baby’s life.

    Different stages of prolonged labor

    A woman is considered to be experiencing prolonged labor if the baby is not born even after 20-24 hours of regular contractions.

    • Prolonged labor in early stage of delivery is when there’s no or little progress for more than 8 hours and the woman struggles to enter the subsequent stage of labor after being in labor for more than 10-12 hours.

    • Prolonged labor in second stage of delivery is if the woman takes more than 1-2 hours to get through second stage if it is her first pregnancy and more than 2-3 hours if it is her later pregnancy. Generally, a woman takes 10-30 minutes to get through the second stage of delivery.

    Prolonged labor during the early stage of delivery can be tiring and stressful but doesn’t pose a risk to the mother or the baby. But, prolonged labor during the second stage of delivery is considered dangerous and may need urgent medical intervention.

    Causes of prolonged labor

    Following are some common causes of prolonged labor:

    • Baby is unable to move through the birth canal as he is big in size.

    • Smaller pelvis region of the woman

    • Abnormal position of the baby

    • The birth canal is very small for the baby to easily pass through

    • Contractions are very weak

    • The cervix is dilating slowly

    • Pregnancy with twins or multiple babies

    • Factors such as stress or worry

    • If the mother is suffering from gestational diabetes.

    Prolonged labor can cause serious risks to the baby such as lack of oxygen, brain hemorrhage, life threatening injuries and risk of suffering cerebral palsy. Likewise, the mother can also face serious risks like urinary tract infection, tearing in the cervix, injuries in the uterus, hemorrhage and postpartum infections.

    The doctors closely monitor the baby and the labor process in case of prolonged labor. It is also important for the mother to stay relaxed during prolonged labor.

    References

    1. Nystedt A, Hildingsson I. (2014). Diverse definitions of prolonged labour and its consequences with sometimes subsequent inappropriate treatment. ResearchGate
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    Verified Article by

    Dr. Ritu S Santwani

    Infertility treatment, Cosmetology, Recurrent abortion treatment, Menopause, Hysteroscopy & colposcopy, PCOS/PCOD, Sexual health - M.D (Obst & Gynaec)| FICOG, FIAOG, AMRCOG, ART-Singapore

    Written by

    LoveleenGupta

    LoveleenGupta

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