Labour is a process in which a series of recurring solid muscle contractions help the baby, umbilical cord, and placenta push out of the womb and into the birth canal. The delivery can occur in two ways; either vaginally (through the birth canal) or by a cesarean or c-section (surgically).

The labor process is divided into three stages; the dilation of the cervix, the birth of the baby, and the delivery of the placenta. The initial signs of going into labor can be strong contractions, cramps, diarrhea, and backache. Each pregnancy and delivery is different for women.

At times, a successful pregnancy may cause complications during childbirth, during which your doctors and handlers should be prepared to deal with any last-minute difficulties. Specialized intervention may most likely be needed if the pregnancy lasted for more than 42 weeks or the mother has some previous health issues.

Here we will examine some of the most common problems that can occur and the steps that can be taken to avoid labor complications.

  1. Abnormal Heart Rate

The fetal heart rate can sometimes exceed the normal range of 110-160 beats per minute, or the rhythm can be unusual.  An abnormal heart rate during childbirth does not typically mean that there is a problem.

The fetal heart rate is checked through continuous electrical monitoring. The health care provider can change the mother’s position or increase maternal hydration to help the infant get more blood flow. However, the baby can go into fetal distress due to inadequate oxygen levels.  In these instances, the doctor may decide to perform delivery straight away. An emergency cesarean delivery might be required.

Failure to recognize fetal distress can result in birth injury malpractice by the doctors. It may be considered medical malpractice if the baby suffers brain or physical injury due to a careless mistake during the labor process. The mother can also suffer severe injuries during childbirth as a result of medical negligence.

  1. Umbilical Cord Issues

The mother passes the oxygen and other nutrients from her body to her unborn baby through the umbilical cord and placenta.  Sometimes the umbilical cord is twisted and untied many times around the baby during the womb.

Umbilical cord accidents can occur in which the cord can get twisted and blocks the blood supply to the fetus, but this is rare and cannot be prevented.  Sometimes the cord is compressed during delivery which can cause a sudden drop in the baby’s heart rate. In most cases, heart rate changes are not a significant concern, and birth can usually happen.

The doctors may use forceps to deliver the baby. However, if the baby’s heart rate worsens or the baby is in fetal distress, a c-section may be necessary.  Cord compression cases occur approximately once in every ten deliveries.

  1. Failure to Progress


The average time for first-time mothers to be in labor is about between twelve to eighteen hours. Sometimes labor does not progress as expected, and doctors term it as prolonged labor. Prolonged labor or failure to progress is described as labor that has continued over twenty hours for first-time mothers.

If labor fails to progress, the first step is to make the mother relax and wait. Sometimes the contractions may be weak, the baby might be significant, or the cervix does not dilate enough with time. However, if labor is not progressing, the doctors can give women labor-inducing medicines to speed up the process.

They can administer Pitocin to increase contractions and make them stronger. If labor takes too long, it will increase the chances of a c-section. Prolonged labor also increases the chances of infection in case of rupture of the amniotic sac. This will also become dangerous for the baby as it may cause abnormal heart rate in the baby.

  1. Excessive Bleeding

After the delivery process, if there are tears to the uterus or the uterus does not contract to deliver the placenta, excessive bleeding can become a worrying issue because it is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths globally.

Rapid blood loss can lead to a sharp drop in the mother’s blood pressure and may lead to organ failure, shock, and death if not treated on time.  Most excessive bleeding can occur within twenty-four hours after delivery, but it can happen later as well. Certain medical conditions like placental pervia, prolonged labor, obesity, and infection can increase the risk of developing postpartum hemorrhage.

The objective of the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage should be to stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Treatment options include using medications, uterine massage, and surgery like hysterectomy to remove the uterus.

Excessive bleeding can be pretty life-threatening, but the outlook is generally good with quick medical intervention and treatment.


The most important thing to do to avoid potential labor complications is to have a healthy pregnancy. Appropriate health care during pregnancy can prevent or resolve some of these problems. Unfortunately, not all of the labor issues can be prevented.

Labour complications are quite life-threatening in those countries where there is a lack of primary health care facilities. Your doctor and health care provider should give special attention to delivery cases when pregnancies last for more than forty-two weeks, when the woman has had multiple pregnancies previously, or if she is much older than a certain age.

Written by Divya Gandotra

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