How To Deal With Prolonged Labor, Best Ways Explained

Last Updated on May 27th, 2023

Prolonged labor has been a significant cause of concern for many women during their first pregnancy and sometimes even in their second pregnancies. Prolonged labor can be pretty exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. Online sources are helpful for mothers who are going through their pregnancy journey as it includes tips, guides and essentials. A lot of factors can be the cause of this delay. However, it becomes essential for one to deal with prolonged labor vigorously.


What is Prolonged Labor?

Prolonged labor, also known as “unable to progress,” refers to labor that takes longer than usual. It may take nearly 16-24 hours once the regular contractions begin. The labor during the first pregnancy is comparatively more prolonged as compared to the second pregnancy. If experienced after 24 hours, early pregnancy labor is considered lengthy, and during the second pregnancy after 18 hours.

prolonged labor pain
prolonged labor pain

Reasons for prolonged labor:

Although there can be varied reasons the labor may get delayed, there are three causes of prolonged labor:

  • Contraction strength: This is the most common and easily treatable cause of delayed labor. The contractions are weak; it gets challenging to deliver. Your doctor may give you a supplement to strengthen the contractions, and if it is the real reason, you’ll soon see the progress.
  • Child size and position: The delay also depends on the size of the child. If the child is big, it won’t be easy to deliver. Also, the position of the child in the womb decides the delivery time. If the legs or hips of the child come out first, it gets challenging to deliver.
  • Passageway: Although rare but sometimes the passageway to deliver the baby is too small, causing prolonged labor and difficulty in progressing.


Ways to Deal with Prolonged Labor:

No matter what the reason might be, the important thing is how to deal with prolonged labor! Not only prolonged labor is physically exhausting but also emotionally exhausting. We’ll discuss some proven methods that’ll help you deal with this situation if you are expecting soon or planning in the future.

Regular Exercise:

In most cases, it is seen that women who exercise during their pregnancy remain healthy, and so does the baby. However, you should always consult your doctor regarding this. Perform only the exercises approved by your doctor and for the time agreed. Working out will strengthen your body, and it’ll be easier for you to bear the contraction pain. Consult your doctor and prepare a workout plan that suits you best. You cannot control what happens during pregnancy, but you can always make your body endure labor.

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exercise help in labor pain pregnancy stage
exercise help in labor pain pregnancy stage

Breathing Techniques:

Various breathing techniques can help one to deal with prolonged labor. The sole purpose of these breathing techniques is to distract the person and manage the heartbeat during contractions. Labor is an excruciating process, and delayed delivery increases the time of bearing that pain. Breathing helps you relieve the intensity of the moment and distracts you from the events happening around you. If you take part in a parenting class, it is probably the first technique they’ll teach you.

Stay Home:

Some women go to the hospital before the right time. There is no harm in doing so, but what women need to understand is that it gets tough to spend time there on one bed through all the pain and uneasiness. Most women suggest that staying at home is a better choice. Being at home, you feel more relaxed and more familiar with your surroundings. You can sit on your favorite couch, lie on your comfortable bed, and use your bathroom. At home, you can watch television, cook, eat and drink to comfort. It helps you pass the time and keeps you distracted and relaxed for a longer time.

how to deal with labor pain
how to deal with labor pain

Keep supportive people around you:

During the last stage of pregnancy, you should decide whether you would like to keep around you or near you during your delivery. It is a proven fact that if you have supportive people around you with whom you are comfortable, it gets easier to get through this labor phase. From the doctor, nurses, helpers to your partner, parents, or friends whomsoever you want around, you can form a team and help you get through this phase. Having a partner who’s there with you, supports you, and helps you through this is known to simplify the process for most women.

Stay Confident:

Now, what mostly happens is that if the labor is delayed, most women get scared and lose confidence. Losing confidence can have a worse effect not only emotionally but also mentally. You should be calm and have faith on the process. Even if it takes time, you should not lose confidence or hope. Think positive and be patient. We all know it gets tough to stay positive at that moment, and so you need to prepare yourself in advance. Practicing yoga and meditation throughout pregnancy will keep you calm and collected throughout.

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prolonged labor pain during pregnancy
prolonged labor pain during pregnancy


If the pain is intense and you do not see any improvement by sitting in one place, try to move around. Walk around slowly, try to sit at a different area, or take a bath or try to change your surroundings. You may even ask your partner or your mother or nurse to give you a light massage. It will provide you with instant relief. Changing surroundings like going to a park or a peaceful area will distract you and freshen you up. It will help you to deal with prolonged labor.

Try to surcease:

Sometimes, during a first pregnancy, women tend to rush as soon as they get labor. However, there is nothing wrong with doing so; it will only stress you out. Try to distract yourself from the labor pain as much as you can. Most women suggest that thinking of labor as a fake alarm has helped them deal with prolonged labor. All you have to do is tell yourself it is just a fake alarm as it is not the date you decided or because you have not prepared your hospital bag yet. Try to ignore the initial labor. Inadvertently go around, dress-up, and try to make the most of these last few days of pregnancy.

pregnancy complications and problems
pregnancy complications and problems

Take Meds:

If you feel the labor is too long and unbearable, discuss with your doctor, and he shall give you the required pills. However, it is suggested that this should be your last option and you should consider it only if you do not have any other choice. Keep your delivery as natural as you can. Your doctor himself won’t suggest any medicine if he doesn’t feel that you genuinely need one. Make it your last option.

Use your Rest Periods:

When the labor is prolonged, a stage comes when most women start saying, “I can’t do this.” Prolonged labor can cause fatigue and can be extremely exhausting. However, one should never underestimate the power of the rest period. Many women suggest that taking a nap or relaxing during their resting period has helped them not only to bear the pain but also to deliver more efficiently and comfortably. If you utilize the resting period by taking a break, relaxing, or taking a shower, you will feel even more prepared and confident to progress.

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pregnancy pain and solution
pregnancy pain and solution


Most of the time, women panic if labor takes longer than usual. They think of it as a bad thing and start thinking negatively. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Go with the flow
  • Get this thing straight: it is your body, and it perfectly performs what body function.
  • There can be reasons your labor is taking longer than usual, but there is nothing to worry about. By panicking, you are only making things difficult for yourself and your baby.
  • Try to rest and take a nap if you get a free period instead of thinking why’s and when!
  • Let the baby make its time and think of all the good things like how your life will soon be changing.
  • No matter how strong you are, always keep a close one near you. It is a proven fact that women who have their partners near them during labor handle it more gracefully than others. Your partner knows how to calm you, support you, and help you. He will always make sure you do not lose hope and think negatively.

As it’s already said, try to make the most of this last stage of pregnancy. Enjoy the birth of your bundle of happiness and take care of yourself. Eat good food, move around, and try different labor supportive positions. Always remind yourself of the satisfaction you’ll be witnessing soon!

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