Narrator: This is Science Today. It may be easier said than done, but a new study has found that a little patience during stalled labor can avoid many cesarean deliveries. Dr. Andrew Caughey of the University of California, San Francisco says one-third of the women in their ten-year study achieved normal delivery with no harm to themselves or their babies, by waiting out the delivery process an extra two hours.
Caughey: There's a diagnosis called active-phase arrest, so if you go into active-phase labor where you're beyond four to five centimeters dilated and you've made real cervical change and then you stall out. The midwifery literature refers to as a plateau phase, but in the obstetric literature view, it's not really described. We think that if you start stalling out, then that's a bad sign, that's a sign that the baby is too big for your pelvis or your uterus is not strong enough or something like that.
Narrator: Caughey says it's really a matter of balancing risk...
Caughey: If the baby looks perfectly fine and the mother's doing well and has the wherewithal to be patient and you can support her through this intolerance of labor at that point, then it can a lot of times, progress on.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.