Medical Complications Associated with Extended Labor

Experiencing a birth injury is a traumatic event for a family. Most babies are delivered without incident; unfortunately, mistakes do happen.

prolonged-labor-complicationsProlonged labor is a major risk factor for birth-related injuries. It is also termed as failure to progress. Prolonged labor in a first-time mother is defined as labor that lasts more than eighteen hours. After the cervix is completely dilated, labor is considered prolonged if the baby is not delivered within three hours. However, if the mother has had previous pregnancies, labor is considered prolonged if the baby is not delivered within two hours of full cervical dilation.

Common Causes of Prolonged Labor

In some cases, prolonged labor is a result of fetal malpresentation or breech positions. Prolonged labor may also be a result of the abnormally large size of the baby’s head (larger that the birth canal), which in medical terms is known as cephalopelvic disproportion. During labor, the uterine muscles contract and push the fetus into the birth canal; however, if the baby’s head is too large, it can cause a failure to progress. Another common reason that causes prolonged labor is inadequate contractions.

Risks to Mother and Child

Prolonged labor can pose serious risks to both the mother and child. It is important for the obstetrician to intervene and use assistive techniques to achieve a safe delivery. If the doctor fails to take steps to end the prolonged labor, it may lead to serious medical complications such as intrauterine infection, rupture of amniotic membranes, or fetal distress. It is important for the doctor to monitor the fetal heart rate acceleration, deceleration, and fetal heart rate variability. These complications may be a result of low oxygen levels or abnormalities of cardiac rhythm. Failure to progress also poses a risk of postpartum haemorrhage, and if the condition is allowed to continue, it may cause birth injuries such as ischemia, fetal hypoxia, intracranial haemorrhage, or asphyxia.

Intervention of Prolonged Labor

An obstetrician will monitor the strength and timing of contractions and use an ultrasound to assess the size and position of the fetus if the labor is progressing slowly. Electronic fetal monitoring plays an important role in preventing birth injuries, as it helps the doctor monitor the fetal heart beat and allows them to perform a caesarean section if there are signs of fetal distress.

In the case of prolonged labor, if there is no significant malpresentation and the baby is not too large for the birth canal, the doctor may administer oxytocin. If the head is too large for the birth canal, the doctor may use a vacuum or forceps to assist the delivery. However, improper use of these techniques may also cause birth injuries.

Failure of a doctor to manage prolonged labor may cause significant birth injuries. If you think your child’s birth injury was a result of the doctor’s inability to handle prolonged labor efficiently, consult with a St. Louis birth injury attorney to seek compensation for all losses and suffering that the injury has caused. Call Zevan and Davidson Law Firm at (314) 588-7200.

Missouri Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, contact our legal team right away. Waiting to seek legal representation can prevent you from filing a claim and receiving the compensation you deserve.


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