Failure to Progress
(Unsatisfactory Progress of Labor)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Failure to progress (FTP) happens when labor slows and delays delivery of the baby. The cervix may not thin and open as it should. This makes it hard for the baby to move down the birth canal.
The cause of FTP may be linked to:
Sometimes, the cause is not known.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Once labor has started, the baby should move down the birth canal at a certain pace. The baby's progress is either slower than this pace or it or stops.
The doctor will check:
A monitor may be used to find out how the uterus is contracting. It can count how many contractions there are, how long they last, how strong they are, and how much time goes by between each one.
This is enough to make the diagnosis.
The goal of treatment is to start labor or to speed it up. Options are:
FTP can cause stress on the mother and baby. This can lead to problems. The doctor may choose to deliver the baby by:
There are no known ways to prevent this health problem.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Office on Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters—Women's College Hospital
Assisted vaginal delivery (instrumental delivery). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/assisted-vaginal-delivery-instrumental-delivery. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Labor dystocia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/labor-dystocia. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Labor induction. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/labor-induction. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Protracted labor. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/abnormalities-and-complications-of-labor-and-delivery/protracted-labor. Accessed September 13, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated: 9/13/2021
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