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Prepared by: RONARICA B. DIONES, R.N., R.M.

Theories of Labor Onset

Labor is a coordinated sequence of involuntary, intermittent uterine contractions. It is the series of events that expels the fetus and placenta out of the mothers body. This is made possible by the presence of uterine contractions and abdominal pressure that push the fetus out during the expulsion period of delivery.

Theories of Labor Onset

Regular contractions result to gradual cervical effacement and dilatation. Adequate pressure from abdominal muscles allows the baby to be pushed outside the mothers womb.


Labor and delivery require a woman to utilize her coping methods psychologically and physiologically. Normally, labor begins when the fetus reaches a mature age (38-42 weeks age of gestation). This is to ensure survival of the fetus with the extrauterine life.


The mechanism that converts Braxton Hicks Contractions (painless contractions) to strong and coordinated uterine contractions is unknown. In some cases, labor occurs before the fetus reaches the mature age (preterm birth) while in others it is delayed (post-term birth).

Uterine Stretch theory

The idea is based on the concept that any hollow body organ when stretched to its capacity will inevitably contract to expel its contents. The uterus, which is a hollow muscular organ, becomes stretched due to the growing fetal structures. In return, the pressure increases causing physiologic changes (uterine contractions) that initiate labor.

Oxytocin theory
Pressure on the cervix stimulates the hypophysis to release oxytocin from the maternal posterior pituitary gland. As pregnancy advances, the uterus becomes more sensitive to oxytocin. Presence of this hormone causes the initiation of contraction of the smooth muscles of the body (uterus is composed of smooth muscles).

Progesterone deprivation theory

Progesterone is the hormone designed to promote pregnancy. It is believed that presence of this hormone inhibits uterine motility. As pregnancy advances, changes in the relative effects estrogen and progesterone encourage the onset of labor.

Progesterone deprivation theory

A marked increase in estrogen level is noted in relation to progesterone, making the latter hormone less effective in controlling rhythmic uterine contractions. Also, in later pregnancy, rising fetal cortisol levels inhibit progesterone production from the placenta. Reduce progesterone formation initiates labor.

Prostaglandin theory
In the latter part of pregnancy, fetal membranes and uterine decidua increase prostaglandin levels. This hormone is secreted from the lower area of the fetal membrane (forebag). A decrease in progesterone amount also elevates the prostaglandin level. Synthesis of prostaglandin, in return, causes uterine contraction thus, labor is initiated.

Theory of Aging Placenta

Advance placental age decreases blood supply to the uterus. This event triggers uterine contractions, thereby, starting the labor.

Bradley Theory
The Bradley theory of labor focuses on the natural aspect of birth. This theory of labor asks you to start preparing for your labor during your pregnancy through good nutrition, prenatal exercises and practicing various relaxation techniques.

Bradley Theory
This theory of childbirth focuses on the role of your coach to support and serve as your advocate during your pregnancy and labor. If you desire a completely natural childbirth without the use of pain relief such as epidurals or other tools and interventions like forceps, episiotomies and fetal monitors, then this theory of labor may be a good match for you.

The Lamaze theory of labor focuses on providing you with essential information and techniques to help make your birthing experience the one that you truly wanted. Pain management techniques such as controlled breathing, massage and changing positions.

Although Lamaze labor encourages the mother to avoid unnecessary medical interventions such as continuous electronic fetal monitoring, Lamaze International emphasizes the fact that the mother should be free to make her own personal decision regarding interventions such as pain medication.

Alexander Technique
The Alexander technique of labor educates about the effect of posture has on the laboring body. Through organized lessons that teaches various positions to improve posture and relieve pain during both pregnancy and childbirth, this theory of labor in pregnancy relies primarily on natural methods to help the birthing experience. This theory of labor encourages to keep the body relaxed, which may facilitate a quicker, less painful birth.

A theory of labor operating on the belief that the laboring pain will be greatly reduced if the mother will not experience fear or tension. Hypno-Birthing uses self-hypnosis to improve the birthing experience. The patient will learn breathing and relaxation techniques that will allow the mother to be a calm but active participant in the delivery. Similar to Lamaze, this theory of labor focuses on teaching techniques that the mother can use with or without medical interventions such as epidurals.