What is Prolonged Labor?
Prolonged labor, also called “failure to progress,” means that labor has stalled or is moving along too slowly. Doctors can assess prolonged labor by determining the mother’s labor stage and whether the cervix has thinned and opened appropriately for the labor process. When a baby is not born after at least 20 hours of regular contractions, it can indicate prolonged labor. Here’s how prolonged labor can increase a baby’s risk of a birth injury.
How is Prolonged Labor Treated?
When labor isn’t progressing or is progressing too slowly, some solutions may include, but are not limited to:
Pitocin is a synthetic hormone used to induce labor and strengthen uterine contractions. (Pitocin may also be used to avoid C-section surgery.) Pitocin must be administered correctly as high doses can cause excessive uterine contractions. Excessive uterine contractions can reduce the baby’s oxygen supply.
While in some cases a doctor may want to avoid a C-section delivery, it’s a viable option to prevent birth injuries from prolonged labor. Failing to perform a timely C-section can increase the risk of birth asphyxia and other complications that can cause a birth injury.
Performing an Amniotomy
An amniotomy is a procedure in which a woman’s membranes are artificially ruptured with a unique tool to accelerate labor. Possible risks of an amniotomy may include intrauterine infection, umbilical cord prolapse, and maternal hemorrhage.
Forceps and Vacuum Extraction
Instruments such as forceps and vacuum extraction can help speed up the delivery of a baby. However, when misused, a baby can suffer brain bleeds, seizures, or oxygen deprivation to the brain. Due to these increased risks, doctors do not use these methods often to manage prolonged labor.
Related Article: Can the Use of Forceps Cause a Birth Injury?
How Does Prolonged Labor Increase the Risk of a Birth Injury?
Prolonged labor has been linked to the following complications and birth injuries:
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Fetal distress
- Intracranial hemorrhaging
- Infection (to both mother and baby)
When Your Baby Has Suffered a Birth Injury, We Can Help
Big cases require big resources. Parents are often shocked when they learn their baby has suffered a birth injury. Most birth injuries are preventable, and negligent medical professionals should be held accountable when they fail to give their patients the standard of care. If your baby has suffered a birth injury, we are here to help protect your rights.
At Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC, our attorneys are experienced in handling some of the most challenging and unique birth injury claims. However, time is of the essence. In Kentucky, injured parties have one year (in exceptional circumstances, five years) from the date of injury to take legal action against medical professionals, hospitals, or other licensed medical entities.
Contact us today at (502) 242-8872 to speak to one of our lawyers today.