A long labor though normal can be difficult to handle. It is especially common in first time pregnancies, with labor lasting beyond the 12-18 grueling hour range without medical intervention. Not only is it exhausting, it makes the laboring woman feel unaccomplished. Having said that it is difficult to quantify the total length of labor before it is considered prolonged. What becomes more of a concern is if labor is progressing regularly without interruptions and arrests, with time becoming a secondary factor.
Reasons behind Long Labor
There are a number of reasons for long labor apart from it being common in first-time pregnancies:
- Size of baby and her position in the womb. Labor begins properly but at some point there is an arrest because of the correlation between the mother's pelvis and baby's head.
- Inefficient or irregular contractions which causes progress to be slow
- A mother who is tense or in fear can prolong labor
- Multiple pregnancy
Lessening the Chances of Long labor
- The mother should make attempts to relax. Having some form of distraction (massage from the partner, music, the company of family etc) will put her mind off the rigors of labor.
- Keep eating and drinking during early labor while you are still feel up to it to help maintain your energy level.
- The mother should avoid lying down all the time and instead walk around a bit. Staying mobile or active helps to bring on contractions at regular pace. Staying upright also helps
- If epidural or pethidine is administered early on, it can consequently slow down contractions. Sluggishness and even oversedation is likely.
- Avoid becoming fatigued by having enough rest during the pre-labor phase. Don’t overdo things in the last weeks of pregnancy but at the same time eat and drink normal, go for short walks and relax.
- Staying relaxed is good as it helps you cope with labor better. Going to the hospital too early can tense the mother up because of the new environment. It is better to stay home longer and proceed to the hospital only if the water bag breaks, the contractions are strong or if there is bleeding.
Close observation becomes necessary because prolonged labor can get complicated. Before labor becomes prolonged pitocin is given to stimulate contractions. Sometimes situation corrects itself on its own. An example would be baby manages to mold a bit and conform to the passageway. And sometimes cesarean becomes necessary.