Exploring concepts and definitions of plateaus during normal labor and birth: A scoping review protocol

Marina J. Weckend, Sara Bayes, Clare Davison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: In this scoping review, contemporary concepts and definitions of phenomena during normal labor and birth, wherein the process appears to plateau (slow, stall, or pause) but remains within physiological limits, will be mapped.

Introduction: During labor and birth, it is frequently perceived as pathological if contractions, cervical dilation, or fetal descent plateau. However, there is evidence to suggest that some plateaus during labor may be physiological, and a variety of concepts and terms refer to this phenomenon. Where a physiological plateau is perceived as pathological arrest, this may contribute to undue interventions, such as augmentation of labor. Therefore, it is important to advance understanding of physiological labor patterns, including potentially physiological labor plateaus. 

Inclusion criteria: Publications mentioning any plateaus of the processes of normal human labor and birth will be considered. This may also include phenomena where labor is perceived to "reverse," for example, a closing cervix or a rise of the presenting fetal part. Publications where plateaus are defined as pathological will be excluded.

Methods: All types of evidence, published and unpublished, will be considered. The search strategy will be applied to the databases MEDLINE, Embase, MIDIRS, Emcare, CINAHL, and Scopus, and will be limited to the past 30 years. Gray literature will be searched via Open Grey, reference list screening, and contacting authors. Data extraction will comprise information on concept boundaries, terminology, precedents, consequences, concept origin, and types of evidence that report this phenomenon. Results will be presented in tabular, diagrammatical, and narrative manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644-651
Number of pages8
JournalJBI evidence synthesis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


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