You never know what will happen during childbirth. Sometimes, babies have trouble navigating the birth canal on their own. If your baby becomes stuck during labor, it will probably be for one of the 10 following reasons.
One unusual complication that can happen during birth is shoulder dystocia. This occurs when the baby’s head is pushed out but one shoulder becomes wedged in the pelvis preventing the baby from being born.
Shoulder dystocia is considered an emergency situation. The maternity team will not panic but the baby will need to be dislodged quickly. The concern is the lack of oxygen to the baby. The mother’s contractions can cause intense pressure that can compress the cord, cutting off the connection to the baby. Also, the baby’s lungs could compress, making it difficult to breathe air.
Most babies who experience shoulder dystocia are often not big. Regardless of size, a baby who cannot squeeze through to the outside world will need emergency treatment.
The optimal labor position is one that is gravity-friendly. Standing, squatting, and rocking on all fours are positions that open up the uterus. This gives the baby more room and encouragement to descend the birth canal and maneuver through the pelvic bones.
Unfortunately, many women give birth lying flat on their backs or resting on their tailbones. These positions limit the mother’s mobility which restricts the baby’s movement. Under these circumstances, the baby’s route can hit a dead end. Repositioning the laboring mother can sometimes fix the problem.
It is rare that your baby will become tangled in the umbilical cord. Still, nuchal cords occur in 10-37 percent of all births. This is when the umbilical cord coils around the baby’s neck.
This situation doesn’t necessarily mean immediate danger for your little one. Still, if the baby’s heart rate decreases after contractions, the cord may be pulling too tight. If fetal monitoring shows a prolonged abnormal heart rate or signs of inadequate amounts of oxygen, a C-section may be advised to prevent further complications.
Epidurals are in demand. More than 50% of women opt for this method to reduce labor pain. Between specific segments of the spine, a guide needle is injected, through which a small tube is fed. The needle is withdrawn, leaving the fine tube in place. The anesthetic flows through the tube directly around the nerves of the spine, temporarily reducing the sensation in the lower half of the body. The tube is taped down to keep it from slipping out.
While the use of an epidural has its benefits, it can also delay delivery for two reasons. First, women with an epidural tap can find it difficult to use their legs since the lower half of their bodies feel numb. Lack of mobility can make it harder for the baby to find the pelvis.
Second, the numbing effect of the epidural reduces muscle strength from the waist down. As a result, women have more difficulty pushing the baby out on their own strength. This is why many women who use epidurals often need their babies to be pulled out with the aid of forceps or vacuum caps.
The pelvis is made up of several bones joined together by cartilage and ligaments. Throughout pregnancy, the pelvic joints relax and stretch to accommodate a growing baby.
In a vaginal labor, contractions help push the baby down. This pressure is enough to temporarily separate the pelvic bones. But, when a woman’s pelvis is too narrow for a baby to be pushed out, this is known as fetopelvic disproportion (FPD). If your pelvic dimensions are small, you may be a likely candidate for a cesarean section.
When a baby’s head is too big to descend the birth canal, this is known as cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD). This scenario is rare, occurring in approximately 1 out of 250 births. However, many slow labors have been attributed to CPD.
Genetics plays a factor in CPD. For example, if you or your partner wear a large-sized hat, your baby’s head circumference may be in a higher percentile. A baby with a large head may crown but the mother’s pelvic muscles may not be strong enough to push the baby out without the help of forceps or a vacuum cap.
If you are expecting, a vaginal birth is probable. However, a large baby can put a vaginal birth in jeopardy. You have a big baby if your fetus is estimated to be over 8 lbs 13 oz. The term for a baby heavier than this weight is fetal macrosomia.
Because there is a risk of a big baby becoming stuck, your maternity team will assess if your baby can safely descend the birth canal. If not, you may be a prime candidate for a C-section or an early induction.
Babies twist, turn, and move all around the womb. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, the living quarters of the uterus becomes cramped. As early as week 32 and as late as week 38, most babies have settled into a head-down position but some don’t. Around 4% of babies wind up in breech positions; this means their butts or their feet are positioned down to come out first through the cervix.
There are reasons for wanting to adjust a poorly positioned fetus. For instance, if a baby’s feet are positioned to come out first, there is a chance your baby could become tangled and trapped in the umbilical cord. A breech baby can make a vaginal birth difficult, and sometimes impossible.
The chances are good that your infant will be head-down during birth as most breech babies reposition before delivery. But, if your little one is still primed to come out feet-first, a cesarean section may be necessary to prevent your baby from becoming stuck.
The hospital staff needs to stay on top of potential complications so they can quickly address complex situations. This is why a baby is closely monitored during labor and delivery. One common method of monitoring the fetus is through fetal heart rate monitoring.
Fetal distress commonly occurs when there is a lack of oxygen going to the baby. If fetal monitoring shows a prolonged abnormal heart rate or signs of inadequate amounts of oxygen, a baby will not be able to deliver without a medical intervention. A C-section may be advised to prevent further complications.
Sometimes, babies pass a stool during labor. Baby’s first solid waste is known as meconium. If this thick, tar-like substance is released into the amniotic fluid and the baby breathes it in, it can block the airways. As a result, oxygen levels can be reduced, putting stress on the baby. This situation can slow or completely stop labor.
Meconium aspiration is an uncommon complication, occurring in about 5-10 percent of births. However, if it happens, an emergency C-section may be scheduled.