MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Introduction to Complications of Labor and Delivery

By

Julie S. Moldenhauer

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2024
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION

Usually, labor and delivery Overview of Labor and Delivery Although each labor and delivery is different, most follow a general pattern. Therefore, an expectant mother can have a general idea of what changes will occur in her body to enable her to deliver... read more occur without any problems. Serious problems are relatively rare, and doctors can usually detect and treat them. Regular visits to a doctor or certified nurse midwife during pregnancy are important to have a healthy pregnancy and to detect problems if they occur. Some problems develop suddenly and unexpectedly, so pregnant women should call their doctor or midwife if something seems wrong (such bleeding, decreased fetal movement).

Examples of problems (complications) that can develop or become evident only after a pregnant women goes into labor or during delivery include:

When complications develop, alternatives to spontaneous labor and vaginal delivery may be needed. They include

Timing of Labor and Delivery

The average length of pregnancy is 40 weeks, counted from the first day of the last menstrual period. The due date is set at 40 weeks, but this is an estimate. Most women do not deliver exactly on their due date, but some do.

Labor may start

If a baby is delivered too early or too late, there is a risk of health issues.

Determining the length of pregnancy can be difficult because the precise date of conception often cannot be determined. Early in pregnancy, an ultrasound examination can help determine how far along the pregnancy is. In mid to late pregnancy, ultrasound examinations are less reliable in determining the length of pregnancy.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz! 
iOS ANDROID
iOS ANDROID
iOS ANDROID
TOP