Childbirth Problems: Facts You Should Know

A pregnancy that appears to have progressed normally can still result in childbirth problems. The following are some of the most frequently expressed concerns.

Inability to Advance (Prolonged Labor)

A small percentage of women, mostly first-time mothers, may have an excessively long labor. Both the mother and the baby are at risk of several complications, including infection, in this situation.

Exceptional Presentation

The term “presentation” refers to the position adopted by the fetus as your body prepares for delivery. It can be vertex (head down) or breech (buttocks down). The fetus usually drops lower in the uterus in the weeks preceding your due date. The baby should head down, facing the mother’s back, with its chin tucked to its chest and the back of its head prepared to enter the pelvis during labor. Thus, the baby’s head is guided through the cervix and into the birth canal by the tiniest possible portion of its head.

Because the baby’s head is the largest and least flexible part, it is best if it leads the way into the birth canal. Thus, there is little risk that the body will pass through, but the baby’s head will become entangled. Cephalopelvic disproportion occurs when the baby’s head is frequently too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis, either due to their relative sizes or due to the fetus’s improper positioning.

Occasionally, the baby turns away from the mother’s back and toward their abdomen (occiput or cephalic posterior). This increases the likelihood of painful “back labor,” lengthy childbirth, or birth canal tearing. In head malpresentation, the baby’s head is positioned incorrectly, with the forehead, top of the head, or face entering the birth canal rather than the back of the head.

Before Pregnancy

Consult your physician about any health problems you are currently experiencing or have had in the past. If you are receiving treatment for a health problem, your health care provider may wish to alter your treatment regimen. For instance, certain medications used to treat medical conditions may be harmful if taken during pregnancy. At the same time, discontinuing necessary medications may be more harmful than the risks associated with pregnancy. Additionally, discuss any complications from previous pregnancies. If you keep your health problems under control and receive adequate prenatal care, you will likely have a normal, healthy baby.

During Pregnancy

Pregnancy symptoms and childbirth problems can range from minor annoyances to severe and occasionally fatal illnesses. At times, it can be difficult for a woman to distinguish between normal and abnormal symptoms. Pregnancy complications can include physical and mental health issues that affect either the mother or the baby. These complications can be caused or exacerbated by pregnancy. Numerous childbirth problems are minor and do not progress; however, they can be harmful to the mother or her infant when they do. Bear in mind that there are methods for resolving issues that arise during pregnancy. If you have any concerns during your pregnancy, always contact your prenatal care provider.

What are some of the most frequently encountered complications during labor and delivery?

Non-progressive labor.

Occasionally, contractions become weaker, the cervix does not dilate sufficiently or quickly enough, or the infant’s descent into the birth canal is not smooth. If labor does not progress as expected, a health care provider may prescribe medication to increase contractions and accelerate work, or the woman may require a cesarean delivery.

Tears in the perineum.

During delivery, a woman’s vagina and surrounding tissues are likely to tear. Occasionally, these tears will heal on their own. Suppose the tear is more severe or the woman has previously undergone an episiotomy (a surgical cut between the vagina and anus). In that case, her provider will assist her in repairing the tear with stitches.

Umbilical cord complications.

As the infant travels through the birth canal, the umbilical cord may become entangled in an arm or leg. Typically, a provider intervenes if the cord becomes entangled around the infant’s neck, becomes compressed, or comes out prematurely.

The baby’s heart rate is abnormal.

Frequently, an abnormal heart rate during labor does not indicate an issue. A health care provider will almost certainly ask the woman to change positions to increase blood flow to the infant. In some instances, when test results indicate a more severe childbirth problems, delivery requires immediately. In this situation, the woman is more likely to require an emergency cesarean delivery, or the health care provider may need to perform an episiotomy to widen the vaginal opening for delivery.

Early water bursting.

Labor typically begins spontaneously within 24 hours of a woman’s waters breaking. Otherwise, if the pregnancy is near or at term, the provider will almost certainly induce labor. If a pregnant woman’s water breaks before the 34th week of pregnancy, she will be hospitalized and monitored. Infection can become a severe issue if the woman’s water breaks prematurely and labor does not initiate spontaneously.

Asphyxia during pregnancy.

This condition occurs when the fetus does not receive adequate oxygen in the uterus or when the infant does not receive sufficient oxygen during labor, delivery, or the period immediately following birth.

Dystocia of the shoulder.

The infant’s head has emerged from the vagina, but one of the shoulders has become stuck.

Hemorrhage in excess.

Heavy bleeding can occur if the uterus is torn during delivery or does not contract properly to deliver the placenta. Such bleeding is a leading cause of maternal death worldwide. 9 The NICHD has funded research into using misoprostol to prevent bleeding, particularly in resource-limited settings.

How Do I Avoid Obstetrical and Labor Complications?

The most critical thing you can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy is to receive timely and adequate prenatal care. The best prenatal care begins even before you become pregnant to ensure that you are in the best possible health before becoming pregnant.

Quit smoking to help avoid complications. Preterm labor triggers by smoking. Gum disease links to preterm birth, so brush and floss your teeth daily. Additionally, it may be beneficial to reduce your stress level by setting aside quiet time each day and soliciting assistance when necessary.

Ultrasound transvaginal

Your doctor will assess you for risk factors for preterm labor and premature delivery and will discuss any precautions that may be necessary. Cervical length measurement with a transvaginal ultrasound probe can aid in predicting a woman’s risk of preterm delivery. This procedure performs in the doctor’s office between 20 and 28 weeks of pregnancy on pregnant women at risk.

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