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Variations : Speed of Labor

Labor can progress at different rates . Some women have slow and steady progress , others have a speedy labor and others may experience a labor that is less predictable . Often , the speed of labor is a variation of normal .
Timing and Length of Labor
Prodromal Labor
Some mothers experience early labor contractions for many days ( this may also be called prelabor or “ false ” labor ).
Protracted or Prolonged Labor
Sometimes labor is well underway and stops . Other times contractions continue but dilation stays the same for several hours .
• If help is not already on the way , call and make sure a skilled provider or ambulance is en route .
• Stay calm .
• Make sure the mother is in a safe and clean environment and that your hands are clean . If


you have time , put towels or a barrier under mother to protect the surface she is on .
• As the top of the baby ’ s head appears , encourage mother to blow ( not push ), applying gentle counter-pressure to the perineum for support . Do not pull on baby ’ s head .
• Once the baby is born , it is common for the These can all be normal variations as long as umbilical cord to be around the neck or body . If mother and baby are doing well . Various factors , this occurs , gently unwind it . such as an epidural or other medications , as
• Place the baby on his mother ’ s abdomen , well as the mother ’ s state of mind and the preferably skin-to-skin . Cover them both with a environment , may contribute to a slow labor towel or blanket .
Fast Labor
Some mothers experience only a few hours of very fast labor . Labor lasting less than three hours is considered “ precipitous .”
or stalled dilation . In this event , you may hear phrases like “ failure to progress ” or “ dysfunctional labor .” However , with time and patience , many labors will progress to complete dilation . Consider your preferences and discuss with your care provider what options you have , including waiting , alternative measures , medications to speed up ( augment ) labor or cesarean .
Although unusual , some babies speed their way into the world and are born before the mother arrives at the birth place or before the care provider arrives . It is wise to prepare for emergency situations and take an infant CPR course before birth . The following tips may help should the partner need to assist the birth :
• After baby is born , gently rub him with clean cloths to stimulate the first breath , wiping away excess fluids from the nose and mouth .
• Do not pull or cut the cord ; allow the placenta to be delivered on its own .
• Some bleeding is expected after birth . If bleeding seems excessive , massage mother ’ s nipples and lower abdomen to stimulate contractions .
Normal Variations in Length and Progress of Labor
delay in active labor
Labor and Birth