Feature Archive

Childbirth Complications

Childbirth Complications

WebMD Feature

A pregnancy that has progressed without any apparent hitch can still give way to complications during delivery. Here are some of the most common concerns.

Failure to Progress (Prolonged Labor)

A small percentage of women, mostly first-time mothers, may experience a labor that lasts too long. In this situation, both the mother and the baby are at risk for several complications including infections.

Abnormal Presentation

Presentation refers to the position the fetus takes as your body prepares for delivery, and it could be either vertex (head down) or breech (buttocks down). In the weeks before your due date, the fetus usually drops lower in the uterus. Ideally for labor, the baby is positioned head-down, facing the mother's back, with its chin tucked to its chest and the back of the head ready to enter the pelvis. That way, the smallest possible part of the baby's head leads the way through the cervix and into the birth canal.

Because the head is the largest and least flexible part of the baby, it's best for it to lead the way into the birth canal. That way there's little risk the body will make it through but the baby's head will get hung up. In cephalopelvic disproportion, the baby's head is often too large to fit through the mother's pelvis, either because of their relative sizes or because of poor positioning of the fetus.