6 Natural & Effective Tips For a ‘Stalled’ Labor
Labor is as unique as the mother who is in labor. Some mothers and babies labor quickly and efficiently and others take detours and can move slowly. When laboring in a hospital setting with an OB, it is common to receive regular vaginal exams every 2-4 hours. With these frequent vaginal exams, the laboring mother may find that her labor has fallen off the ideal and timely labor path.
Most provider expect women to make notable cervical change every 2-6 hours. When labor does not follow the normal path, many providers will want to intervene and get labor back on the path. Before moving to a medical augmentation, there are six natural and effective tips that any mother can try to get her labor back on track or to keep a labor on track if working with a provider who may be less patient.
Move, walk, & change positions
A moving mother is a moving baby! By getting up, walking, and changing positions a mother can encourage the baby to descend into the pelvis and line up in a way that works optimally for both of them. In early labor it is ideal to find a balance between walking and stairs for helping baby’s alignment and taking rest in preparation for when labor gets active. In active labor consider lunges, walking, stairs, hands and knees, as well as resting on a birth ball to facilitate optimal alignment. Save squatting and laboring on the toilet for transition and pushing in order to conserve energy.
Change the environment
It is critical to stay home in an environment that you consider safe and personal in early labor. Once labor is established and your provider recommends it then move to your birth location.
Unless you are birthing at home, moving to a new space brings some difference. Consider lowering the lights or using stringed holiday lights for a softer light, play music to facilitate relaxation and to block sounds from outside of your room, adjust the thermostat for your comfort, employ tools to make the space feel more natural such as a birth ball, aromatherapy or other special comfort items, and remember you can request privacy.
By binding the belly with a belly binder or rebozo you can encourage the abdominal muscles to engage which can facilitate the baby lining up and finding their way out. Belly Binding is a good option for all pregnant women and will facilitate a better quicker labor. It is frequently a top go-to trick for me as a doula.
Address her fears and concerns
While childbirth is an exciting time, it can also bring up lots of dormant or incomplete thoughts and fears. Many are completely rational and can be expected and others may appear irrational to the partner. She might be worried about vaginal tearing, who will be on call during the birth, the sex of the baby, or when family will arrive.
Her emotions and beliefs may change in labor as well, requiring fluidity by her support team. However, exploring everyone’s thoughts and feelings before labor is always a good idea. Good communication can facilitate an easier birth and recovery for everyone. Sometimes professional help is ideal. It’s important to know that psychologists have the option of doing postdoctoral work in perinatal mood disorders as it is not covered in traditional schooling. So, search them out.
Increase natural oxytocin
Nipple stimulation produces oxytocin and brings contractions closer together. Several options are available including self-massage, partner massage, and oral stimulation by partner or breast pumps. Stimulate the breasts as if a baby was nursing and then stop once a contraction builds. Give yourself a 3-60 second break and start again. Once labour is well established again, stop the stimulation.
Kissing and orgasms naturally produce oxytocin. So ask for some privacy and remember how your got pregnant in the first place. Even if it is not successful the oxytocin release will lessen anxiety and fears which can improve the birth as well.
Acupressure and acupuncture
Acupressure can be used throughout pregnancy and birth. Practicing before labor so that you are comfortable is helpful. You or your partner can work on acupressure points as needed. Alternately an acupuncturist can work with you more in depth to treat or jump start your labor if desired. Many women report positive experiences using acupuncture to support their pregnancies.
Debra Betts has put together a complete easy-to-use document on acupressure for pregnancy, labour and postpartum. She offers acupressure solutions for all sorts of situations, from nausea in pregnancy to labor augmentation. You can download a copy here.
Labor patterns are as unique as the mother and baby. Labor is a fine dance where mother and baby need to work together for birth. There are many things happening that are necessary for the birth process to take place. Having good and trusted communication with your provider can help you to understand what may be going on. Working with a doula can help you to remember the techniques you learned in childbirth class and use the best techniques to support you and your birth.