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Papers And Originals

Prevention of Prolonged Labour

Br Med J 1969; 2 doi: (Published 24 May 1969) Cite this as: Br Med J 1969;2:477
  1. Kieran O'Driscoll,
  2. Reginald J. A. Jackson,
  3. John T. Gallagher


    A prospective study of 1,000 consecutive primigravid deliveries has shown that active management in labour can ensure that every woman is delivered within 24 hours. Emphasis is laid on the importance of a correct initial diagnosis of labour based on objective criteria. Amniotomy followed by oxytocin infusion is advocated to simulate the progress of normal labour unless this is evident from an early stage.

    Oxytocin, the dose of which is limited only by foetal distress, cannot be used effectively unless three popular fallacies are rejected. Firstly, that prolonged labour is often an expression of cephalo-pelvic disproportion; secondly, that oxytocin may rupture the primigravid uterus; and, thirdly, that there is a valid therapeutic distinction between hypotonic and hypertonic uterine action.

    Stimulation, properly supervised, is safe to mother and child, it eliminates the problem of occipitoposterior position, results in a sharp decline in forceps delivery, and obviates the need for massive analgesia.