Pregnancy concerns: Cephalopelvic disproportion

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Can you still give birth naturally if you have a small pelvis? Find out what cephalopelvic disproportion is and how it affects you and your baby come delivery day.


Upon hearing the term cephalopelvic disproportion from your gynaecologist, your first reaction might be, "Pelvic-what?" Do not be intimidated by the medical jargon. It basically means that your pelvis is too small to accommodate your baby during childbirth.

This can be disconcerting news to any mother who has had her heart set on natural birth. Being diagnosed with Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) does not mean that you cannot give birth to a healthy bouncing baby. But attempting a natural birth with this condition would be too risky.

What is cephalopelvic disproportion?

There are two main causes of cephalopelvic disproportion: 1) the baby might simply be too large to enter the birthing canal, and 2) the woman's pelvis is too small to safely accommodate the passage of the baby. The term is also loosely used to describe the lack of progress in labour.

Causes of cephalopelvic disproportion are usually genetic. When you have a slightly larger than normal baby or a somewhat narrow pelvis, it simply comes down to biology. Other contributing factors might also include diabetes, an irregularly-shaped pelvis, an unusual fetal position or a longer pregnancy that carried on past its due date.

How common is cephalopelvic disproportion?

True cephalopelvic disproportion is very rare, occurring in only one out of every 250 pregnancies, but CPD can also refer to one's ability to give natural birth.

Treatment for cephalopelvic disproportion

During the course of pregnancy, your doctor will collect information about your pelvis type, while the ultrasound will provide a rough idea on your baby'’s measurements. Based on all the considering factors, you will be informed whether or not a C-section is a favourable option.

  • Your doctor will start with an old-fashioned physical exam to measure the size of your pelvis and compare it to the baby’'s development. Your body can change in amazing ways once it goes into labour, but if your doctor suspects that you will be at risk, a Caesarean could be an option.
  • By all means, get a second opinion if you still wish to give birth naturally. If the second doctor gives the same opinion, it is vital that you listen to the specialists. Attempting to deliver a baby vaginally under these circumstances can only cause trauma and harm to you and your baby.