Researchers from University of California, San Francisco have revealed that pregnant women whose labour stalls while in the active phase of childbirth can reduce health risks to themselves and their infants by waiting out the delivery process for an extra two hours.
They examined 1,014 pregnancies that involved active-phase arrest - two or more hours without cervical dilation- opening of the cervix, the entrance to the uterus, in childbirth- during active labour,
The team found that one-third of the women achieved a normal delivery without harm to themselves or their child, with the rest proceeding with a cesarean delivery.
"One third of all first-time cesareans are performed due to active-phase arrest during labour, which contributes to approximately 400,000 surgical births per year," said Dr Aaron Caughey, PhD, an associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and senior author on the paper.
"In our study, we found that just by being patient, one third of those women could have avoided the more dangerous and costly surgical approach," he added.
The findings appear in the November, 2008 issue of "Obstetrics and Gynecology," the official journal of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).