What causes a long labour?

First, it's probably worth saying that a "long" labour is subjective. What is long for one woman may be fine for another. A woman's perception of the duration of her labour will be affected by many factors such as hunger, dehydration, tiredness, support, encouragement, the environment, interventions, being cared for by one midwife who is known to the woman and trusted by the woman, her expectations of labour and birth, her preparation for labour and birth and so on. There can be many things that can cause a labour to be longer than hoped for. These include things like:

  • First baby: first babies can sometimes take longer than second and subsequent labours
  • The position of the baby: a posterior baby can sometimes (not always) mean a longer labour.
  • The positions you adopt in labour: upright positions may speed the process of labour
  • Hydration levels: if you are dehydrated, it can cause your contractions to weaken, and this can slow the labour
  • Being cared for by one midwife: continuity of carer has been shown in research to result in shorter labours
  • Birthing in the environment that feels safest to you: home or hospital, it doesn't matter. It's about where you feel safe. When you feel safe, you will labour better
  • Feeling ready for birth and motherhood

Melissa Maimann is an eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney.  One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa offers a range of care options for women.  Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.