Beverley Hall

PhD candidate

The Pilot Amniotic Fluid Study

At the University of Sydney Midwifery and Women’s Health Nursing Research Unit, based at the Royal Hospital for Women, we seek to contribute to the body of knowledge concerning labour dystocia (failure to progress in labour).

Labour dystocia remains one of the commonest causes of caesarean section. At present, the diagnosis and management of dystocia occurs in an evidence vacuum1.

Based on the findings of Swedish physiologists and English obstetric clinicians, we hypothesise that increased concentration of amniotic fluid lactate (of myometrial origin) may accurately predict labour dystocia and fetal outcome2,3,. If this is proven, as is likely from preliminary experience in two internationally recognised works, this will provide a clear, reproducible marker for assessment of the risk of dystocia and the need for intervention3,4,5.

At the Annual Progress Review, I will present the findings of The Pilot Amniotic Fluid Lactate Study which aims to 1) determine the feasibility of collecting amniotic fluid lactate samples from women during labour and 2) perform laboratory validation studies on the test instrument that we propose to use in a future major research project (The Amniotic Fluid Lactate Study).

Our research is timely in an environment where the rising rate of caesarean section shows no signs of abating and will be internationally significant, placing Australia at the forefront of applying recent advances in physiological research to the clinical setting. Our research will add new knowledge to our understanding of dystocia and have the potential to offer a new level of precision in assessing labour dystocia; when and how to intervene.