Pregnancy is a wonderful thing. The nine months of growing expectation of the little one growing inside of mom and learning about the different stages of their growth to the expectation of that very special day of their debut into the world. Childbirth is exclusive to every woman. For some, it goes fairly easy and quickly, while for others it can last days with intense pain.
Most, if not all, expectant mothers are clearly aware of the pain they will experience on their child’s day of birth. Although all women know it will be painful, most don’t realize the extent and intensity of the pain they will experience. And many may not be aware of the different problems that can arise during labor. Labor happens when the baby is pushed through the uterus toward the birth canal.
This movement is called contractions, which results in labor. The pain moms-to-be will feel from this will oftentimes start in the lower back and pelvic area (low stomach area) and move down toward the cervical area or the birth canal over time. For most first-time mothers, labor is usually much longer, ranging anywhere from 10-20 hours.
After the first baby, labor usually gets shorter with future births. Yet, there are reasons first-time mothers and experienced mothers have prolonged labor. And these reasons are often due to problems that arise unexpectedly. Although, difficult labor can be anticipated during a woman’s pregnancy or during labor due to health reasons.
Here are 14 things that happen when labor fails to progress or that causes prolonged labor.
14 When Labor Is Induced
Sometimes a woman's labor becomes prolonged due to being induced. Induced labor can happen for a number of reasons. One minor reason labor is induced is if the mother has gone past her due date. This doesn’t mean doctors will induce if you’ve gone a day or two beyond your due date, but once it has been more than 2 weeks, labor is likely to be induced.
Some of the more serious issues as to why labor is induced include things like if the mother has health issues that can pose a problem. If the mother has hypertension or high blood pressure, preeclampsia, heart disease, diabetes, bleeding during her pregnancy, unusual pains or a difficult pregnancy, first-time mothers who may be experiencing a difficult labor and women over 40.
Other reasons include things such as the baby is not getting enough oxygen or nutrients, issues with the umbilical cord or other serious health concerns the baby may be having.
13 Because The Mother Is Stressed
This reason for inducing labor is closely associated with the last one and can happen if the mother is experiencing an abnormal level of stress. This can mean a number of things. The mother may have hypertension or high blood pressure and the normal stress experienced in having a child may be causing her blood pressure or stress levels to become abnormal.
It can also cause her heart rate to remain high, which is a serious problem to cause the doctors to induce labor. Other health issues like diabetes can cause stress levels to rise. External issues can also cause high stress to occur. Perhaps the mother is experiencing family, financial or mental issues.
The problem with having a stress during pregnancy is that the mother transfers this stress to the unborn baby and can make labor difficult for both. The baby’s heart rate can increase and this can cause health issues in the baby.
12 Mom Has Gestational Diabetes
The bad news is that this disease has become one of the growing diseases among expectant women. The good news is that it tends to go away after the child is born. That is somewhat encouraging, but it can be a very difficult experience for a woman to endure while pregnant. It heightens the risk of health problems in the mother and the baby.
The Western diet consists of a large amount of carbohydrates and processed sugars which can increase the risk of gestational diabetes. One reason this can cause prolonged labor is because the blood sugar levels can rise in the mother during the difficulties of labor.
Another reason this disease can cause a prolonged labor is because it can produce large or overweight babies which can create complications during labor if the baby is too large for the birth canal. This increases the likelihood of Caesarean delivery.
11 Having Multiples At Birth
Twins are a wonder. Two people conceived at the same time, or close to the same time. Growing together in the womb. Born looking identical and sharing other similar characteristics, habits and even desires. Some mothers would love the fact that they are having twins. It doubles the pleasure. But it can also prolong labor efforts.
It’s often difficult enough for some mothers for one child to come through the birth canal let alone two or even three. The mother’s body, whether it be her uterus or cervix or other health issues, may not be able to handle the difficulty of multiple births.
Also, the babies may experience a level of stress, difficulty coming through the canal or health issues due to their shared environment that may complicated the birth process and cause doctors to go with an induce labor that can result in a C-Section, which is often the best choice.
10 Having A Breech Baby
As most expectant mothers soon realize, her baby twists and turns constantly while in the womb. All these twisting and turning in a small space causes things to become cramped. Most babies will twist and turn themselves to the right position for the delivery process, that being in the head down position.
However, a small number don’t quite end up in the correct position. Unfortunately they end up with their bottom and feet at the cervix instead of their head in that position.
Your doctor will inform you of their position prior to birth, letting you know the difficulties that can happen, such as how the baby can become easily entangled in the umbilical cord and just the fact that your little one is upside down can make normal delivery impossible. If your baby is still in the breech position at the time of delivery, doctors will perform a Caesarean.
9 The Baby Has Low Oxygen Levels
One of the results of prolonged labor is the possibility of your baby losing oxygen, resulting in low oxygen levels in their system. This obviously is a dangerous situation. A lack of oxygen, known as asphyxia, is always a high risk for the baby during the labor process.
Causes for this to happen includes trauma to the infant while in the womb, while coming through the birth canal, problems with the placenta and/or the umbilical cord, preeclampsia, heavy doses of medication taken by the mother and shoulder dystocia, which is where after the head comes out the shoulder gets stuck and causes an obstruction or halt in the baby’s progress of being delivered.
Long-term effects of a lack of oxygen can cause brain defects and developmental delays and disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, and seizures. It can also result in death if oxygen is cut off for an extended period of time.
8 When There's Cord Prolapse
The umbilical cord is the lifeline for your baby. It contains all the nutrients and oxygen your little one needs for survival while in the womb and it takes care of waste to keep your baby from infections. However, this important link can cause labor to be prolonged and can cause a serious problem when it comes out before the baby does.
When the cord appears before the baby does this is called a prolapsed cord. And when this happens doctors will immediately perform a C-Section as an emergency procedure. The reason being is that this vital cord suddenly has become a danger to the baby instead of their lifeline.
Your contractions can cause the cord to compress around the baby causing strangulation and cutting off their blood supply and oxygen, obviously a very serious situation. The good thing is that this doesn’t occur often. It’s usually a rare case.
7 Meconium Aspiration
Another problem that can cause a prolonged labor is something called meconium aspiration, which is when a baby has a bowel movement during labor. Babies don’t have a bowel movement like we do. It is odorless and sterile. If the stool is released into the amniotic fluid causing the baby to breathe this substance in.
When this happens it can block their lungs, and their airways. This causes the oxygen levels to decrease, causing a situation that prolongs labor. Not only can this cause a problem during labor, it can cause a problem with the baby’s health. Their lungs can become filled with bacteria that causes a bacterial or viral infection to occur.
If this happens during labor, which occurs in a small percentage of births, an emergency C-section is usually performed. What mothers have to remember even if they don’t want a C-section is that most doctors will not perform C-section unless their is an emergency or if you have requested it.
6 Placenta Previa
The placenta plays a very important part in the pregnancy process. It is a flat organ with a circular shaped which produces hormones that support the unborn baby’s life. It produces nourishment and oxygen to the baby, while flushing away the baby’s waste away from the baby. In the latter stages of labor, the placenta comes out before the baby is delivered.
However if there is a problem with delivering this organ, there can be a serious risk to the mother and the baby. This risk is called Placenta Previa. It occurs when the placenta settles in the lower part of the uterus and blocks the opening of the cervix. Sometimes it partially blocks the cervix, while other times it completely blocks cervix.
Doctors will determine if the uterus grows large enough during the labor process so the baby can come through the birth canal. However if the placenta continues to block the cervix, then a C-section will be necessary.
5 It's A Large Baby
This is a problem with mothers who have Gestational diabetes, but it’s also poses a problem for mothers with unborn babies that are just large. Babies gain excess weight or become large for various reasons. They can inherit genes that cause them to be larger babies.
As mentioned before, Gestational diabetes in the mother can cause the baby to become large. Whatever the reason your baby is larger than the average, you want to consider or reconsider a natural birth. If your baby is over 8 lbs, she or he is considered a large baby. This is called fetal macrosomia.
Because your baby is big, the risk of he or she getting stuck in the birth canal or the cervical area is real. The stress you and your baby will experience will definitely prolong labor, causing a number of issues during the delivery process. If your baby is too big for vaginal delivery, your doctors will suggest having a C-section.
4 Epidural Side Effects
Although pregnancy and the anticipation of having a baby can be a joyful experience, the pain is real. The anticipation and reality of birth pangs, have made Epidurals very popular. More than half of all women choose an epidural as a way to reduce the pain. Epidurals are injected in the spine.
Sound scary? It can be. But when you’re suffering from the intense pain of labor, most women won’t think twice about receiving an injection in their spine. Once the needle has been injected into the spine, a tube is inserted and kept in place. The medicine then numbs the lower half of the body.
This can cause a delay in the labor because the mother’s legs are numb and are unable to manage the lower part of their body causing the baby to have difficulty coming through the canal. Also, the mother’s muscle strength is decreased so the baby has to be pulled out by forceps.
3 Placental Abruption
The placenta plays an important part in the labor process. In normal deliveries, the mother pushes the placenta out before the baby is delivered. However problems can occur with the placenta causing the labor to be prolonged or delayed. Other than the placenta blocking the cervix, another issue that can arise is when the placenta abrupt or tears.
This happens when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall too soon. A placenta that becomes detached even partially detached can decrease the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the baby, which is what the placenta does for the baby. One way placenta abruption is noticed is when there is severe bleeding during labor or the third trimester.
Although the mother will obviously be aware that she’s bleeding once she consults with her doctor, the doctor will make the determination that a C-section is necessary. If this happens during labor, the doctor will conduct an emergency C-section.
2 Poor Labor Position
Unfortunately, the position denoted for birth delivery in the US and other Western countries is incorrect and faulty. The position women are made to get in when delivering a baby oftentimes makes it more difficult to give birth. The ideal position is one where the mother is squatting or rocking back and forth while squatting.
This helps open the uterus allowing the baby to flow more freely and to descend in a proper way through the birth canal. It’s similar to having a bowel movement. We don’t lie down to have a bowel movement because squatting or sitting position helps us push our bowels.
The concept of having women lie on their back makes it extremely difficult and odd to push effectively, to utilize muscle strength in their legs, hip and even upper body, and it restricts the baby’s natural descent movement. Because of this, many labors are prolonged. Oftentimes, the solution calls for switching the position of the mother so the birth process.
1 Fetal Distress
When the baby experiences distress during labor and delivery, this not only prolongs labor, but a prolonged labor can cause the baby to become distress which in turn delays labor even longer. This creates a catch 22. The baby is closely monitored during the delivery procedure just like the mother is. The baby’s heart rate is closely monitored to detect any forms of distress.
Fetal distress often occurs when the baby’s oxygen has been cut off or when the blood supply is cut off. These things can happen for a number of reasons, ranging from difficulties with the placenta, the umbilical cord, if the baby is too big, the mother’s stress levels/heart rate, and a host of other things.
Whatever’s causing the baby’s distress levels to increase doctors will make the determination to conduct an emergency C-section to prevent or reduce further complications during the labor and delivery process.