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Prolonged Labor

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What Happens if Labor Goes Too Slowly? continued...

The medical team will check:

  • How often you have contractions.
  • The strength of your contractions.

The following tests will be done:

  • Intrauterine Pressure Catheter Placement (IUPC) - a tiny straw monitor is placed into the womb beside the baby that not only lets your doctor know when a contraction is occurring, but how strong the contractions are. If your doctor does not feel like the contractions are strong enough, at this point is when they may consider adding pitcoin.
  • Continuous electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) to measure the baby's heart rate.

How Is Prolonged Labor Treated?

If your labor is going slowly, you may be advised to just rest for a little while. Sometimes medicine is given to ease your labor pains and help you relax. You may feel like changing your body position to become more comfortable.

Additional treatment depends on why your labor is going slowly.

If the baby is already in the birth canal, the doctor or midwife may use special tools called forceps or a vacuum device to help pull the baby out through the vagina.

If your doctor feels like you need more or stronger contractions, you may receive Pitocin (oxytocin). This medicine speeds up contractions and makes them stronger. If after your doctor feels like you are contracting enough and the labor is still stalled, you may need a C-section.

If the baby is too big, or the medicine does not speed up delivery, you will need a C-section.

Risks of Prolonged Labor

Prolonged labor increases the chances that you will need a C-section.

Labor that takes too long can be dangerous to the baby. It may cause:

  • low oxygen levels for the baby
  • abnormal heart rhythm in the baby
  • abnormal substances in the amniotic fluid
  • uterine infection

If the baby is in distress, you will need an emergency delivery. This is the time where close monitoring is important to the health of you and your baby.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on August 04, 2014
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