9 Ways Augmentation of Labor Can Help Progress Labor Safely

What is Augmentation of Labor

Augmentation of labor refers to the process of artificially speeding up or strengthening contractions during childbirth. It’s a medical intervention used when labor is progressing too slowly or when contractions are not strong enough to push the baby out. This technique is usually employed as a last resort when natural methods of inducing labor have failed. Here’s what you need to know about the augmentation of labor.

Why is Augmentation of Labor Necessary?

The primary goal of the augmentation of labor is to help women give birth safely and as quickly as possible. In some cases, labor may stall, and contractions may not be strong enough to push the baby out. Augmentation of labor can help to speed up the process and reduce the risk of complications.

Indications for Augmentation of Labor

  • Prolonged labor: If labor is taking too long (more than 20 hours for a first-time mother, or 14 hours for a woman who has given birth before), doctors may consider augmentation of labor to speed up the process.
  • Weak contractions: If contractions are not strong enough to push the baby out, augmentation of labor may be necessary.
  • Fetal distress: If the baby is showing signs of distress, such as an abnormal heart rate, doctors may opt for augmentation of labor to speed up delivery and reduce the risk of complications.
  • Unruptured amniotic sac: An unruptured amniotic sac refers to a situation where the sac of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby has not broken and may need to be artificially ruptured by the doctor to help progress labor.
  • Contractions that stop altogether: Contractions that stop altogether refer to a situation in labor where the uterus stops contracting, and the progress of labor comes to a halt.
  • Abnormal fetal position or presentation (Rarely used): It refers to a situation during childbirth where the baby is not positioned head down with the face towards the mother’s back (vertex position), but instead in a different position that may make delivery more difficult or complicated, such as breech or transverse position.
  • Inadequate bony pelvis or soft tissue abnormalities of the mother: It refer to physical conditions in the mother that can make labor and delivery more challenging, such as a narrow or abnormally shaped pelvic bone or abnormalities in the soft tissue of the birth canal. These conditions can sometimes lead to difficulties in the descent and delivery of the baby, requiring medical interventions or a cesarean section.

Methods of Augmentation of Labor

There are several methods of augmentation of labor, including:

Medical Method

  1. Artificial rupture of membranes (AROM): This is a procedure in which the doctor uses a small instrument to break the bag of water surrounding the baby. This can help to speed up contractions and make them stronger.
  2. Oxytocin: Oxytocin is a hormone that helps to stimulate contractions. It can be administered through an IV to help speed up labor.
  3. Misoprostol: Misoprostol is a medication that is sometimes used to soften the cervix and help it dilate. This can help to speed up labor.

Medical Methods are more effective than non-medical methods in augmenting labor, but they also have more risks and complications

Non-Medical Method

Non-medical methods are natural techniques that can help stimulate contractions and encourage labor to progress. They include:

  1. Changing positions or walking around
  2. Massaging the lower back or abdomen
  3. Applying warm compresses or taking a warm bath
  4. Drinking fluids or eating light snacks
  5. Relaxing and breathing deeply
  6. Having nipple stimulation or sexual intercourse (if the water has not broken)

Non-medical methods are generally safe and have few side effects, but they may not be very effective in some cases

Benefits of Augmentation Labor

  • It can help avoid a C-section and its associated risks and complications
  • It can shorten the duration of labor and delivery
  • It can reduce maternal fatigue and discomfort
  • It can improve maternal and fetal outcomes

Risks and Side Effects of Augmentation of Labor

Like all medical procedures, augmentation of labor has risks and potential side effects. Some possible risks and side effects include:

  • Fetal distress: Augmentation of labor can put stress on the baby, which can increase the risk of fetal distress.
  • Uterine rupture: In rare cases, the uterus may rupture during augmentation of labor, which can be life-threatening for both the mother and baby.
  • Increased pain: Augmentation of labor can make contractions stronger and more painful, which may require pain relief medication.
  • Increased risk of cesarean section: Augmentation of labor may increase the likelihood of needing a cesarean section if labor still does not progress.
  • Infection: It is a potential complication of augmentation of labor due to tears or cuts in the vaginal wall or cervix caused by medical instruments, leading to an increased risk of bacterial infection, with symptoms including fever, chills, and foul-smelling discharge.
  • Excessive bleeding: Excessive bleeding, or postpartum hemorrhage, can occur due to the failure of the uterus to contract properly after delivery, resulting in uncontrolled bleeding from the placenta, and other risk factors such as prolonged labor, certain medications, and multiple fetuses.
  • Umbilical cord prolapse: It is a rare but serious complication where the cord slips through the cervix before the baby, causing a lack of oxygen supply and symptoms including fetal distress, slow heartbeat, and visible cord outside the vagina.
  • Placental abruption: it is another rare but serious complication caused by premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall, leading to bleeding and oxygen deprivation to the baby, with risk factors including high blood pressure, drug use, and abdominal trauma, and symptoms such as abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, and fetal distress.

Risks of Augmentation of Labor

  • It can cause overstimulation of the uterus and fetal distress
  • It can increase the need for pain relief and monitoring
  • It can increase the risk of infection, bleeding, uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, and placental abruption
  • It can interfere with the natural process of labor and delivery

Augmentation of Labor Vs Induction of Labor

ParameterAugmentation of LaborInduction of Labor
DefinitionIntensification of labor that has already started but has slowed down or stoppedInitiation of labor when there is no sign of natural onset
PurposeTo speed up and strengthen contractions to progress laborTo start labor when it is delayed or not starting naturally
MethodsAdministration of medications (oxytocin) to stimulate contractionsAdministration of medications (prostaglandins, oxytocin, membrane sweeping, etc.) or rupturing the amniotic sac to trigger labor
TimingDone during active labor or when contractions have slowed downDone before the onset of labor or when labor has stalled
Risks and ComplicationsUterine rupture, infection, bleeding, fetal distress, and neonatal jaundiceUterine hyperstimulation, uterine rupture, infection, bleeding, fetal distress, and neonatal jaundice
Success RateSuccessful in 90-95% of casesSuccessful in 70-80% of cases
Need for Cesarean DeliveryLess likely to result in cesarean deliveryMore likely to result in cesarean delivery
Pain and discomfortCan cause stronger and more painful contractionsCan cause more intense and frequent contractions leading to more pain and discomfort
Augmentation Labor and Induction of Labor

Post-Augmentation Care for Mother and Baby

After the augmentation of labor, it is important for both the mother and baby to receive appropriate care.

Maternal Care Following Augmentation

The mother may require additional monitoring and care following augmentation, such as monitoring for signs of infection, pain management, and support with breastfeeding.

Baby’s Care Following Augmentation

The baby may require additional monitoring and care following augmentation, such as monitoring for signs of distress, support with breastfeeding, and ensuring that the baby is maintaining appropriate blood sugar levels.

What if the Augmentation of Labor Fails?

If augmentation of labor fails, the healthcare provider may consider other options, such as cesarean delivery or the use of additional medications to promote contractions. In some cases, the provider may also need to monitor the baby’s heart rate more closely or perform additional testing to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby. It is important to discuss any concerns or questions about the failure of augmentation of labor with a healthcare provider.


Augmentation of labor can be a safe and effective way to speed up childbirth and reduce the risk of complications. However, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully and make an informed decision with the help of your doctor. If you’re facing prolonged or stalled labor, talk to your doctor about the best course of action for you and your baby.


Q: What is an augmentation of labor?

A: Augmentation of labor is a medical procedure that is performed to stimulate or enhance the uterine contractions during labor. This procedure is done to speed up the progress of labor or to strengthen contractions that are not strong enough.

Q: How is an augmentation of labor done?

A: Augmentation of labor can be done through several methods, including the administration of medications such as oxytocin or prostaglandins, breaking the amniotic sac, or manually stimulating the cervix.

Q: Is augmentation of labor safe?

A: Augmentation of labor is generally considered safe, but it does come with some risks, such as infection, excessive bleeding, and fetal distress. The risks associated with the procedure depend on the method used and the condition of the mother and baby.

Q: What are the reasons for the augmentation of labor?

A: Augmentation of labor is done when labor is not progressing as it should, or when contractions are not strong enough to facilitate the delivery. Some of the reasons for augmentation of labor include maternal exhaustion, slow dilation, or prolonged labor.

Q: How long does augmentation of labor take?

A: The length of time it takes to complete the augmentation of labor depends on the method used and the individual situation. Some cases may only require a few hours, while others may take several days.

Q: What are the side effects of augmentation of labor?

A: Side effects of augmentation of labor can include nausea, vomiting, fever, pain, and headache. In rare cases, the procedure can cause serious complications, such as infection, excessive bleeding, or fetal distress.

Q: Can I refuse augmentation of labor?

A: Yes, you have the right to refuse any medical procedure, including augmentation of labor. However, it is important to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider to ensure that you are making an informed decision based on your individual situation.

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