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Complications During Labour

In women who have active genital herpes (recognised by a rash/ulcers on the vagina), there is a risk of passing on the infection to the baby during a vaginal delivery.

This is mainly in women having their first attack, since those with a history of recurrent herpes usually have antibodies that cross the placenta to protect the baby.

Since herpes infection can lead to serious problems in newborn babies, women with active genital herpes will be advised to have their baby delivered by Caesarean section, particularly if they have not had a previous attack. If women have an outbreak of genital herpes during a pregnancy, then taking acyclovir during the final 8-10 weeks of pregnancy may reduce the risk of an attack at the time of delivery.

Prolapsed umbilical cord

In some women, a loop of the umbilical cord may very rarely drop down into, or hang out from, the vagina when their waters break. This is known as a prolapsed umbilical cord and is a serious condition since there is a risk that the oxygen supply to the baby will be impeded.

A Caesarean section during childbirth will always be carried out straight away in cases where there is a prolapsed cord. The only exception is where the mother is already in the second stage, and the obstetrician feels it would be quicker to deliver the baby with a ventouse or forceps.

Vaginal tearing

In situations where it is obvious that your vagina will not be able to stretch sufficiently to accommodate the emergence of your baby’s head without placing excessive stress on the tissues of the perineum and uneven tearing, then an episiotomy in childbirth may need to be undertaken. These are no longer done routinely, and nowadays are usually only necessary where a baby needs to be born by assisted delivery or where there is foetal distress and the baby needs to be born quickly without any delay.

This may be the case where birth is imminent and the perineum has not had time to stretch gradually.

What were your experiences of labour? We'd love to hear.

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