How is Normal Labour different from Abnormal Labour?

Normal labour is spontaneous in onset without undue prolongation and terminates naturally; abnormal labour progresses slowly affecting the health of mother and baby.

Labour is a natural process and a unique experience for every mother. In labour, a series of events occur which involves continuous and regular uterine contractions with progressive dilation and effacement of the cervix to expel the foetus out of the womb (uterus) through the vagina.

You need to know whether your labour is normal or or abnormal.

Normal Labour

Labour is considered normal if it fulfils the following criteria-

  • Labours should be spontaneous in onset and at term (38 to 41 weeks)
  • The foetus should be in vertex presentation (foetus head or vertex should be the presenting part)
  • It should be without any undue prolongation (labour should not exceed 12-15 hours)
  • Labour should terminate naturally with minimal assistance and aids
  • Labour should not have any complications which can affect the health of the mother or the baby.

Abnormal Labour

Abnormal labour, also known as dystocia is considered abnormal when it deviates from normal labour.

  • When labour starts before fetal maturity occurs before 37 completed weeks
  • Presentation other than vertex or having some complications even with vertex presentation affecting the course of labour
  • When labour exceeds 18 hours
  • Slow or no progress in labour
  • Instrumental delivery
  • When labour adversely affects the maternal and fetal health
  • There is an increased risk of mortality and morbidity for the mother and the baby.


In the above post, we have discussed the difference between normal and abnormal labour. Normal labour is spontaneous in onset without any complications affecting the health of the mother and baby during childbirth, whereas abnormal labour deviates from the normal labour and increases the risk of morbidity and mortality of the mother and baby.

Thank you all!!! Hope you find this useful.

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