Ask An Expert: What Causes Prolonged Labour?

Our team of seasoned experts answer all your questions on pregnancy, delivery, children and women’s health, sexuality education and more.

Q: I’m a first-time mum. I laboured for 5 days, and even though I was hoping to have a normal delivery, I had to have a C-section on the 5th day. What causes prolonged labour?

Dr. Alex Kaoranu Molukwu (OB/GYN) says:

Whole five (5) days in labour? That is extremely unusual. It is assumed that you have not included the period of false labour which is common in late pregnancy.

In false labour, there is no change in the character of cervix (neck of womb) and no descent of the foetal presenting part. False labour is frequent because of discomfort, anxiety and premature admission to the hospital.

The average duration of true labour is about 15 hours in the primigravida (first timer) and 8 hours for multipara. It is marked by regular uterine contractions which become increasingly more frequent, forceful and prolonged with passage of time. Under normal conditions, it implies dilation of the cervix and progresses to delivery of the baby and placenta.

There are several causes of prolonged labour which have foetal or maternal causes; and disproportion is the most common causative entity.

This problem exists when the foetal presenting part is too big/large for the maternal pelvis, birth canal inclusive, through which it should pass. Low lying uterine fibroids and ovarian tumours also make this passage narrow.

Ineffective, incoordinate uterine contractions may also be responsible for prolonged labour. Maternal metabolic derangement further complicates prolonged labour.

It will be interesting to know the general health and wellbeing of your baby after delivery till date. It is hoped you did not develop faecal or urinary incontinence after the delivery.

Prolonged labour is not acceptable in modern obstetrics; good antenatal care to a large extent prevents this horrible problem.

Q: My 14-year-old son recently asked me if he could have sex and I almost choked! I rolled my eyes and he left. I’ve been worried since then. He is in SS1 and his older sister tells me he seems close to this girl in his class. What should I do?

Ololade Hector-Fowobaje, Child Sexual Abuse / Sexuality Education Expert, says:

I believe a child who can come to a parent and ask questions like this values your opinion. It is a good sign indeed that he considers you approachable, but you messed it up by ignoring him. Please go to his room or invite him to yours privately, and have a talk with him. Apologise for ignoring him and tell him that you are proud of him for knowing that it is not a decision to be taken carelessly. Basically, tell him that sex should wait because it is no child’s play.

Explain the consequences of sexual activity: pregnancy, premature parenthood, infections, contraception failure, death, et al; this is what we call teen sexuality education. Sure you agree this is not too much information for a teenager who is considering having sex. Bottom-line is to share your personal and religious beliefs with him in a calm way. Developmentally, this is the age when the desire for opposite-sex friendship rages in teenagers. We can’t wish it away; we can only educate them and establish reasonable rules and boundaries. If your husband is one of the few hands-on dads we have in the world, and he can be calm enough for this task, let him join you in the chat with your son but please be on the same page in discussion.

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“Ask An Expert: What Causes Prolonged Labour?”

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