Knowledgeable and Experienced Guidance

What is prolonged labor and its risks?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | Pregnancy Related Injuries |

Prolonged labor is a serious complication that may occur during childbirth. Expectant mothers should know more about this condition and its potential risks.

What is prolonged labor?

Prolonged labor occurs when the birthing process takes significantly longer than expected. For first-time mothers, labor lasting more than 20 hours is prolonged. Meanwhile, labor exceeding 14 hours falls into this category for women who have previously given birth.

Contractions may become less effective during prolonged labor, and the cervix may not dilate properly. This may lead to a stalled or slow progression of labor.

Why is prolonged labor risky?

Prolonged labor poses risks to both you and your baby. These risks include:

  • Increased risk of infection

The longer labor lasts, the higher the chance of bacteria entering the uterus. This may potentially cause infections in you or your baby.

  • Fetal distress

Extended labor can lead to fetal distress. This is a risky condition where your baby’s heart rate becomes irregular, or oxygen levels decrease.

  • Exhaustion

Prolonged labor can be physically and emotionally exhausting for the mother. This makes it difficult to push effectively during delivery.

  • Higher likelihood of interventions

Medical professionals may need to intervene using forceps or vacuum extraction to ensure a safe delivery. They may also choose to perform an emergency Caesarean delivery for both your and the baby’s safety.

  • Postpartum complications

You may face an increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage or other complications following a prolonged labor.

Women who undergo prolonged labor may not only suffer during delivery but may also develop complications after birth.

How to prepare for the possibility of prolonged labor

While you cannot always prevent prolonged labor, you can take steps to prepare for and respond to this situation. You may:

  • Discuss your concerns with your health care provider before labor begins.
  • Stay informed about the signs of prolonged labor and communicate any concerns during delivery.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations for monitoring and interventions if prolonged labor occurs.

Understanding prolonged labor and its risks can help you better prepare for a safe and healthy delivery. It may be wise to consult your health care provider for personalized advice and guidance throughout your pregnancy and childbirth journey. It also helps to remember that you have legal options if anything goes wrong during delivery or if you develop complications afterward.