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Why do some women not dilate in labour?

(26 Posts)
used2bthin Tue 12-Jun-12 23:04:57

I am nearly five days past my due date so feeling a bit panicked and have started thinking about my first birth 6 years ago. I went into labour a few days earlier than my due date. Had contractions over night and a show then the contractions stopped for a few hours when I fell asleep then started up again and my waters broke a couple of hours later.

Went to hospital at 11am and was only 1.5 cms dilated but there was meconium in the waters so was told I may need a c section. They started monitoring me around 12 and then I was checked again every four hours. DD's heart beat indicated she was in distress then it was decided she actually was ok. After another 9 hours of very painful contractions which by then were every couple of miniutes I still hadn't got past 1.5cms. I was induced then and had an epidural. DD was born at 1am when they checked me again and she was crowning!

So why would I not have been dilating until the induction? And is it more likely to happen again? dd was not small but was ot unusually big and her shoulders also got briefly stuck on the way out which worries me since this baby is likely to be bigger given that I am already more than a week later than I was with her.

used2bthin Tue 12-Jun-12 23:55:14


MaMattoo Wed 13-Jun-12 00:14:54

Have no idea, but would like to know the answer. I failed to dilate, failed induction, had csec.

used2bthin Wed 13-Jun-12 00:19:45

I know of two other people who had c sections for similar reasons. I have never worried about it and had sort of laughed it off but now I am about to go through labour again am worrying over it. My contractions were very painful but I feel like it sounds like I just wasn't coping-either way this scares me as I wonder how much more it would hurt.

sc2987 Wed 13-Jun-12 00:59:02

Sometimes because babies aren't in the right position to put pressure on the cervix the way it expects.

Have a look at this website:

used2bthin Wed 13-Jun-12 02:31:21

thanks. Actually dd was born facxing up so back to back but i'm not sure whether that was because she had got stuck, it could have been when they twisted her to pull her out.

Daisybell1 Wed 13-Jun-12 06:50:39

Me too. 4 pessaries and 12 hrs on the drip got me to 3cm, 2 1/2 of which they did manually (ouch!) dd was slightly off position-wise and also the drip didn't make me contract.

KenDoddsDadsDog Wed 13-Jun-12 06:57:14

Me too , have wondered that for ages. Thanks for link.

likelucklove Wed 13-Jun-12 07:04:18

For me, it was because I had been induced and the pains were so bad and frequent, I was panicking so much I stopped myself from dilating. I had pethedine at 2cms (had been so for a few hours) and 20 mins later I was 10cms and pushing.

bonzo77 Wed 13-Jun-12 07:21:23

Wish I knew! I had 4 gels and 12 hrs on drip. Less than 1 cm dilated and EMCS!

ButtonBoo Wed 13-Jun-12 08:24:52

Same! 3 sweeps, propess, 3x prostrin gel, forced waters broken, 24 hours on syntocin and only got to 4cm! Had emcs. Always wondered why...

PooPooInMyToes Wed 13-Jun-12 08:26:36

Mine only dilated on one side! My baby was back to back as well.

used2bthin Wed 13-Jun-12 13:22:38

That site is interesting in terms of position, I have just remembered she also came out with her head sort of to the side and looking up and her hand over her head.

Seems its not just me then! Did any of you go on to have easier second births?

Elpis Sat 16-Jun-12 17:46:35

After 20h of syntocinon I got to 9.5cm, then started slipping back again. I remember the consultant saying she didn't want to push on 'this cervix'. Then, in theatre for EMCS, the surgeon peered up me and announced: 'This is not a baby I want to deliver vaginally.'

Could you all have told me that earlier?

Opting for an ELCS this time, as apparently failure to progress first time reduces your chance of a successful VBAC.

ButtonBoo Sat 16-Jun-12 20:07:37

Really Elpis? I was hoping for a VB for my next one. I think us non-dilators just have very hospitable wombs so these LO's just don't want to vacate. Kind of like a 5* hotel!!! Makes me feel better about it anyway! wink

ThisAintKansas Sat 16-Jun-12 20:10:49

I went to 42+2 with my first pregnancy before I finally accepted an inducton I had three sweeps - nada. Had pessaries over a four day period - nada. I was event 'effaced or whatever', so they didnt want to do ARM or start me off on the drip. By 42+6 baby went into distress and I had an emergency section.

The human body can be very odd. I would have died in the bush and my baby too in times gone by, no doubt...

VivaLeBeaver Sat 16-Jun-12 20:12:10

Established labour isn't until 4cm, you're not "expected" to make good progress u til then. Prior to that it's the latent phase which can take days. Your case was slightly different as there was the concern about the meconium. If it hadn't been for that they'd probably have told you you werent in labour and wanted to send you home.

ButtonBoo Sat 16-Jun-12 20:20:27

It's bizarre. I got to 4cm but when I was at 3cm my mw looked at my chart and told me my contractions were through the roof. I couldn't feel them though as had to have epi done so they could break my waters. Apparently my cervix was so high they couldn't break my waters without prob causing me pain. 1 mw and 1 SpR tried, then they got the consultant in and she managed to do it. It was awful :-( but when my epi wore off and mw was slow in topping me up I certainly felt those contractions!!! Are strength of contractions linked to dilation? I was on syntocin and they just kept upping and upping the dose but DD did not want out!

VivaLeBeaver Sat 16-Jun-12 20:39:26

Does strength of contractions relate to dilatation?

Kind of. As a midwife if they palpate strong they're probably doing something, but not all women feel them as strong. Or they're able to cope with it still ok.

Then sometimes I will palpate mild contractions but the woman is in agony. But I know those contractions probably aren't doing as much.

Also remember a lot of contractions early on will be effacing rather then dilating the cervix. So getting rid of the length. Goes from approx 4cm long to paper thin. With a first baby that will usually happen before dilatation. With a multip it can happen together a bit more.

hermionestranger Sat 16-Jun-12 20:47:42

I would love to know why this is. I had 19hours of contracting 3 in 10 and they were hard. 2cm when I went in. 2cm when taken for emcs. angry

NoWayNoHow Sat 16-Jun-12 20:55:01

I too would love to know why this happens. I had 27 hours of contracting (every 60-90 seconds for the last 7 hours of it) and was still only 1cm dilated. Ended up being given epidural, being induced, and suffering through another 17 hours of labour before DS was born by violent ventouse and 2rd degree tear for me.

Surely when contractions don't do what they're supposed to do, the medical professionals should take it as a VERY strong hint that the labour isn't going to do what it's supposed to do either??

Still makes me rage to this day, TBH, especially when they later admitted that "yes, we really should have given you a CS at 27 hours rather than inducing".

NoWayNoHow Sat 16-Jun-12 20:55:48

That should say 3rd degree, not 2rd. Can you tell i've had wine ??

VivaLeBeaver Sat 16-Jun-12 21:00:17

Some may be true obstructed labours. I've only seen one obstructed labour where the drs reckoned it was because the woman's pelvis was never going to birth a baby. Then there are the babies that are malpositioned, so might be a face presentation, breech, etc. They're more likely to be slower dilating or not dilate.

feekerry Sat 16-Jun-12 21:53:54

I recently spent 41 hours in labour and only got to 6cm dilated and had failed induction so endeded up with emcs. Apparently I had a think lip on one side of the cervix and they discovered 40 hours into labour baby was back to back and pushing against the lip of the cervix and causing it to swell and not dilate properly. Just as an added note my emcs was a lovely lovely experience!

newyearsday Tue 19-Jun-12 14:59:09

I had 37+hrs labour, most of it stuck at 4cm. EMCS.

I had a debrief with consultant afterwards and asked exactly the same question, the answer she gave me was: 1) my contractions weren't effective, they were either irregular or (after waters were manually broken) they were on top of each other; 2) the baby was back to back, very high up above the cervix and didn't put any pressure on it.

Also, my mind was completely focussed on the pain and I wish I hadn't done that because my whole body was tense and stressed. If I do it all again I will get more support (a doula) to help me with the relaxing.

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