Beverley Hall

PhD candidate

Is lactic acid concentration in amniotic fluid a new predictor of labour dystocia?


Professor Sally Tracy and Professor William Rawlinson


The proposed research builds on recent physiological research of myometrial activity during the labour process, based on published findings of physiologists in the UK and Sweden 1,2,3, who have established that:

  • a relationship exists between fatigued uterine muscles and a raised concentration of lactate (lactic acid) that accumulates in the amniotic fluid during labour;
  • the acidification that occurs from this build-up of lactic acid impairs the contractility of human myometrium leading to dysfunctional labour;
  • the current standard management for dysfunctional labour, that is, augmentation with an oxytocin infusion, may further increase lactic acid accumulation, lowering the capillary pH, ultimately reducing the force of the contractions.

I am a registered nurse and midwife currently employed by the University of Sydney's Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery (Sydney Nursing School) at the Midwifery and Women’s Health Nursing Research Unit, located in the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick. I also maintain a position as a research officer for the Virology Research Laboratory, South Eastern Area Laboratory Services, Randwick. My interests cover all aspects of perinatal health and the collection, management and analysis of perinatal health data.

By project managing the Amniotic Fluid Lactate Study I hope to determine whether there is a correlation between a level of lactate in amniotic fluid of labouring women and the diagnosis of labour dystocia (failure to progress in labour) and neonatal outcomes at birth.