“New or not-so-new” labor management practices and cesarean delivery for arrest of progress

David B. Nelson, James M. Alexander, Donald D. McIntire, Kenneth J. Leveno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Because nearly one-third of births in the United States are now achieved by cesarean delivery, comprising more than 1.27 million women each year, national organizations have recently published revised guidelines for the management of labor. These new guidelines stipulate that labor arrest should not be diagnosed unless ≥6 cm cervical dilatation has been reached or labor has been stimulated for at ≥6 hours. Objective: To determine the cervical dilatation and hours of labor stimulation prior to cesarean delivery for arrest of dilatation. Materials and Methods: Between January 1, 1999, andDecember 31, 2000, a prospective observational study of all primary cesarean deliveries was conducted at 13 university centers comprising the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network. This secondary analysis includes all live-born, singleton, nonanomalous, cephalic gestations delivered by primary cesarean delivery at ≥37 weeks. A cesarean delivery was considered to have been performed for arrest of dilatation if the indication for the procedure was failure to progress, cephalopelvic disproportion, or failed induction. Augmentation was defined as stimulation after spontaneous labor had been previously diagnosed. Analysis included both the latent and active phases of labor. The active phase of labor was diagnosed when cervical dilatation was ≥4 cm in the presence of uterine contractions. Results: A total of 13,269 primary cesarean deliveries were available for analysis, 8,546 (65%) of which were performed for inadequate progress of labor with cervical dilatation recorded at the time of cesarean delivery. Of these cesarean deliveries for labor arrest, a total of 719 (8%) were performed in the latent phase of labor and 7827 (92%) were performed when cervical dilatation was ≥4 cm (active phase). Approximately two-thirds (n = =5876; 69%) received intrauterine pressure monitoring. A total of 5636 women (66% of those reaching the active phase of labor) had reached ≥6 cm cervical dilatation before cesarean delivery was performed. Moreover, 7440 (95%) of the 7827 women in active labor had ≥6 cm dilatation or had received labor stimulation ≥6 hours prior to cesarean delivery for arrest of dilatation. Conclusion: Women undergoing primary cesarean delivery for arrest of dilatation 15 years before the recommendations of the Obstetrics Care Consensus had received bona fide efforts to achieve adequate labor consistent with the recommendations of the Consensus. Because 95% of these women had ≥6 cm dilatation or had received labor stimulation ≥6 hours prior to cesarean delivery for arrest of dilatation, these new recommendations are unlikely to change the cesarean delivery rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71.e1-71.e6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • active phase
  • arrest of dilatation
  • augmentation of labor
  • cesarean delivery
  • failure to progress in labor
  • first stage labor
  • labor management
  • latent labor
  • latent phase
  • oxytocin
  • primary cesarean delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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