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Dystocia- Causes, Risk Factors, and Management

Published on Sep 27, 2022 and last reviewed on Nov 11, 2022   -  5 min read


Dystocia is a term that describes labor that takes a long time to proceed. Read this article to know about its causes, types, and treatment.


What Is Dystocia?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines dystocia as abnormal or prolonged labor caused by abnormalities in-

  1. The power (uterine contractions or maternal expulsive forces).

  2. The passenger (position, size, or presentation of the fetus).

  3. The passage (pelvis or soft tissues).

Dystocia, or abnormal labor progression, affects one-third of all cesarean sections and half of the primary cesarean sections in nulliparous women (first-time mothers).

What Are the Various Types of Dystocia?

The following types of dystocia are present-

What Are the Causes of Dystocia?

Dystocia can occur due to the following causes-

What Are the Risk Factors for Dystocia?

The following factors increase the risk for dystocia-

How Is Dystocia Treated or Managed?

The dystocia is managed or treated according to the following factors-

Management of Shoulder Dystocia:

The following steps are utilized for the management of shoulder dystocia during labor and delivery-

What Complications Can Arise Due to Dystocia?


Labor dystocia refers to labor that is unusually slow or lengthy. It can be detected initially (from the start of contractions to complete cervical dilatation) or during the second stages of labor (complete cervical dilation until delivery). Prolonged labor can raise the risk of infection in both the mother and the baby, fetal distress, newborn hypoxia, uterine rupture, and postpartum hemorrhage. It can also indicate a higher risk of pelvic floor and genital injuries during delivery (with subsequent increased risk for future incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse). Therefore, the fundamental justification for performing a cesarean delivery for the primary indication of labor dystocia is to reduce the chance of these negative mother and newborn outcomes.


Last reviewed at:
11 Nov 2022  -  5 min read




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