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Labor That Progresses Too Slowly

(Protracted Labor)

By

Julie S. Moldenhauer

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Last full review/revision Jul 2021| Content last modified Jul 2021
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Labor that progresses too slowly may involve slow movement of the fetus through the birth canal because the fetus is too large or is abnormally positioned, the birth canal is too small, or the uterus contracts too weakly or too strongly.

Causes of labor that is progressing too slowly include the following:

  • A fetus that is too big to move through the birth canal (pelvis and vagina)

  • A fetus in an abnormal position

  • A birth canal that is too small

  • Contractions of the uterus that are too weak or not often enough to keep the fetus moving

  • Occasionally, contractions that are too strong or close together

Doctors estimate the size of the fetus and birth canal and check the fetus’s position. They also check the strength and timing of contractions. These factors determine treatment.

If the fetus is too big, cesarean delivery is done.

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PITOCIN
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