Failure to progress occurs when effective labor contractions do not lead to delivery of the baby. Failure to progress can be diagnosed in spite of medical interventions. The cervix may not dilate or efface. Effacement is a thinning of the cervix in preparation for delivery. Failure-to-progress can also happen if the baby does not move down the birth canal.

Fetal Descent Stations (Birth Presentation)
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The progress of the baby can be progressively measured.
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Some labors will stall without a clear cause. Uterine contractions can become ineffective, widely spaced, or both. This can happen despite the best efforts of a laboring woman and those who support her.