Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is a medical condition where a baby’s head or body is too large to safely pass through the mother’s pelvis during childbirth. This could be due to an unusually large baby size or a small or irregularly shaped pelvis of the mother. If not properly managed, CPD can lead to complications during labor, often necessitating a cesarean section for delivery.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is a condition where a mother’s pelvis is too small or the baby’s head is too large to pass through the birth canal. This could potentially cause difficulties during a vaginal birth.
  2. CPD can be challenging to diagnose before labor starts. It is often determined during labor when progress stalls, even with strong contractions. Some potential risk factors include diabetes in the mother, a previous child with macrosomia, or a history of CPD with a previous birth.
  3. If CPD is diagnosed, a cesarean section may be required to safely deliver the baby. While it can be a disappointing outcome for parents who planned a vaginal birth, the safety of the mother and the baby is the foremost priority.


Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) is an important term in motherhood because it refers to a complication that occurs when a mother’s pelvis is not large enough to allow the baby’s head to pass through during childbirth.

This disproportion can lead to prolonged and difficult labor, posing risks to both the mother and the baby.

If CPD is determined prior to or during labor, healthcare providers might recommend a cesarean section (C-section) to ensure the safety of the mother and the child.

Hence, understanding CPD is crucial in maternal healthcare as it helps in making appropriate and safe birthing decisions.


Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is a term in the maternal healthcare field that signifies a disproportion size between the mother’s pelvis and the baby’s head. It is a significant factor in planning for childbirth. The purpose of identifying CPD during pregnancy is to manage birth planning carefully to prevent potential complications, such as obstructed labor, and to ensure the safety of the mother and child.

This term assists healthcare professionals in determining the suitable mode of delivery, particularly in deciding whether a cesarean section may be necessary. In the context of motherhood, identifying CPD can greatly help in making informed decisions. It’s typically determined through medical examinations and sometimes with the help of imaging technologies during prenatal care.

An accurate diagnosis can play a vital role in preventing severe birth injuries. It helps the childbirth team prepare and execute a birth plan to minimize risks and complications. This knowledge aids parents in understanding the specifics of the birth process and illuminating potential risks.

Therefore, the term CPD is used to ensure a safe and healthy birthing experience.

Examples of Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)

Example 1: Samantha, a 25-year-old first-time mother, had a full-term pregnancy and was excited to deliver her baby. However, her labor was not progressing even after strong contractions lasting more than 12 hours. Upon examination, her obstetrician noticed that the size of the baby’s head was larger than Samantha’s pelvic opening. The doctor diagnosed this as Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) and opted for a cesarean section to prevent any possible complications for Samantha and her baby.

Example 2: Maria, a mother of two, had delivered her prior babies through C-sections due to Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) where her pelvic structure was too small to allow her baby’s head to pass through. When she was pregnant with her third child, despite her desires for a vaginal birth, her doctor recommended a planned C-section considering her prior experiences, actively preventing a potentially dangerous situation.

Example 3: Nina, a pregnant woman from a rural area, had a prolonged labor. Having no means to immediately reach a well-equipped hospital and undergo a timely investigation, her health care provider in a local maternity center suspected CPD since Nina’s baby’s head was not descending into the birth canal as expected. They urgently arranged for her transportation to a larger hospital where it was confirmed that she had a case of Cephalopelvic Disproportion and a C-section was performed immediately. This intervention probably saved both Nina and her baby’s life.


FAQ: Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)

1. What is Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)?

Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) is a condition where the size of the mother’s pelvis is too small to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal.

2. What are the causes of Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)?

CPD can be caused by various factors, including a small or abnormally shaped pelvis in the mother, a large baby, or unfavorable positioning of the baby’s head.

3. What are the possible risks of Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)?

Possible risks associated with CPD include prolonged labor, increased need for a cesarean section, and higher risks of injury for both the mother and baby.

4. How is Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) diagnosed?

CPD is typically diagnosed during labor when the labor does not progress. Other diagnostic methods include X-ray pelvimetry, MRI, or ultrasound measurements.

5. What treatments are available for Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)?

If CPD is diagnosed, a cesarean section is the most common treatment. Other options include the use of forceps or vacuum extraction to assist with delivery.

6. Can Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD) be prevented?

Preventing CPD can be challenging since it often involves factors that are not under a woman’s control. However, maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy can help reduce the baby’s size and the risk of CPD.


Related Motherhood Terms

  • Cesarean Section
  • Fetal Distress
  • Prolonged Labor
  • Obstetric Ultrasound
  • Maternal Birth Injuries

Sources for More Information

  • Mayo Clinic: This website offers a comprehensive collection of information and resources related to various health topics, including cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD).
  • World Health Organization: WHO provides international standardization of information and resources on global health issues, including maternal health conditions like CPD.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: ACOG contains reliable, scientific information for obstetricians, gynecologists, and patients. CPD would be included in their library of topics.
  • MedlinePlus: A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus offers information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language that’s easy to understand, including CPD.