Prolonged Labor: Risks and Treatment


Prolonged labor is also known by the phrase ‘failure to progress’. It stretches for more than 20 hours after the pre-estimated due date. There are a number of factors which increases the risk of prolonged labor. Starting from bad food habits to hormonal misbalance, many factors increase the risk of prolonged labor.

Risks of prolonged labor increase due to many factors. Food habits, sleeping pattern, sexual habits and many other things trigger the chances of failure to progress. However, in most of the cases the problem is treatable. Treatments of prolonged labor in include medical intervention, proper rest, regular hot bath and obviously C-section delivery of your child.

Read More: 11 Things You Should Know about Preterm Labor

Risks Triggering Prolonged Labor

Prolonged labors are normally very emotionally exhausting. That is the reason why you must know the risks which might increase your chances of a prolonged labor.

Cervix Flexibility

Slow opening of the cervix area is one of the main risks causing prolonged labor. The opening of the cervix is very critical while giving birth. That is the reason why it is important to check your cervix flexibility before you decide to get pregnant.

Too Large Baby

Sometimes if the size of the baby’s head is larger than usual then the time of delivery also increases. This is one of the most common causes of prolonged labor. Determining the shape of the baby’s head in advance often helps in the process.


Too Small Birthing Canal

If your birthing canal is smaller than usual then also the risk of prolonged labor increases. Smaller birthing canal takes more time to make way for the baby to come out of the womb. This increases further complication. Small birthing canal can easily be treated by advanced medical intervention.


Having a couple or more babies in the womb also increases the risk of prolonged labor. The uterus takes time to contract accordingly. The entire process is free of much risk but at the same time it certainly is strenuous for the mother.

prolonged labor risk

Incorrect Position of the Baby

Incorrect position of the baby leads to definite failure to progress. However, this can previously determined an acted upon. Many mothers undergo this symptom. Hence there is nothing much to worry about.

Weak Uterus

Sometimes the problem can be with your uterus only. Weak uterus fails to contract on time. This leads to failure to progress. The health of the uterus should be checked beforehand. Otherwise it will lead to complications during pregnancy.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors like stress, worry and lack of sleep trigger the possibility of a prolonged pregnancy. That is the reason why proper counseling takes place before you decide to get pregnant. Psychological factors control the hormonal secretion. Misbalance in hormonal secretion can lead to many other pregnancy related complications.


Unhealthy Food Habits

Food habits contribute a lot to your overall chances of a healthy pregnancy. If you are not eating healthy foods on a regular basis then the chances of prolonged pregnancy increases. Your baby will take more time to grow and develop. That will mean that you have to wait more to bring him/her out from your womb. Consult your doctors about the foods you should have during pregnancy.

Treatments for Prolonged Labor

Every pregnancy is unique. That is why every treatment should also be different. However, there are certain things that can be done in order to treat or prevent a prolonged labor.

Medical Intervention

Medical interventions become mandatory if you are suffering from weak uterus, inflexible cervix or ovarian cysts. Earlier detection of such symptoms will help you to have proper medication and get well before you plan your pregnancy.


The best thing to do during a prolonged pregnancy is to wait and relax till your cervix opens up. It is very essential that you try and accept the fact. Panicking otherwise would not help your cause. It will take more time to open up. Relaxing often helps your hormones to flow. That makes your cervix more fluid and helps it to open up more.

Take Warm Bath

Taking warm bath is definitely another solution. It will help you relax your muscles and your hormonal flow will occur. It helps the uterus to contract and your cervix to open. Warm baths are suggested by many doctors. Warm baths are good during the last stages of the pregnancy.

Changing Position

Changing your position often will help your child to understand the movement. That is very important for the child to come out from the cervix. Lack of movement often makes it difficult for the child. If the child is unable to understand the movement, he/she will be unable to come out from your womb.


C-Section Delivery

If none of the above remedies work the doctor will suggest you have a Cesarean section. Many women around the United States and the world undergo Cesarean section or C-section delivery.

C-sections are the ultimate answer to prolonged surgery. However, the doctor should make sure about the correct timing of the same. The doctor needs to ascertain that the baby is fully developed and is unable to come out due to delivery related complications.

Wrong position of the baby or weak uterus or baby’s head too large is some common reasons to have a Cesarean section. Underdeveloped babies are not normally taken out from their mother’s womb by means of surgery.


A C-section delivery now has been proved to be safe way of giving birth. However, that is the last resort. That is why it is better to sort things out before getting pregnant. If you have internal complications like weakened uterus or dry cervix or cystic ovary, then you should undertake proper medication and precautions before getting pregnant.

In case you are giving birth to an over sized child or a twin then also normal deliveries can happen, but they are mostly prolonged. Stay in touch with your doctor and decide your course of actions. Remember that prolonged deliveries are normal and seriously there are nothing to worry about.