Stalled Labor: A Toolbox of Options

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In a stalled labor, you can feel frustrated, helpless, and like you REALLY want that baby to make his way out. You may feel external pressures to “get things moving,” or have family constantly disappointed that “nothing’s happening yet.”  Remember though, a stalled labor in and of itself is not necessarily a problem for mom and baby. But when it happens to you, what do you do?

Here is a “toolbox” of ideas. The choices you make will obviously depend upon your individual situation- medical factors, the mother’s energy, the position of the baby, etc.- but this list will give you a starting point.

  • Rest.
  • Go home.
  • Stay nourished and hydrated.
  • Pick a distraction (movie, music, company, children, etc.).
  • Walk.
  • Climb stairs.
  • Intercourse (only if your membranes are intact!).
  • Use nipple stimulation.
  • Shower.
  • Take a bath (again, if your membranes are intact).
  • Sway, dance, move, change positions.
  • Try lunges.
  • Get on hands and knees.
  • Use a birth ball.
  • Try tricks for turning a posterior baby.
  • Try acupressure for labor.
  • Change the environment if something’s bothering you.
  • Avoid vaginal exams. Sometimes they create more of an emotional hurdle than anything else.
  • Talk through relevant concerns. Strong emotions, such as stress or discouragement, can be enough to stall labor.
  • Wait.  Recognize that this could be an example of a Natural Alignment Plateau, when labor is still progressing but dilation doesn’t necessarily increase. Sometimes a mom can seem to be “stuck” for many hours, only to rapidly progress to pushing after a long wait. Recognize that this could be prodromal labor, or a long “practice labor” pattern. Rest and nourishment are in order in this case. If mom and baby are fine, there is no reason that the baby has to be born right away.

Any other suggestions? Please share your experiences with stalled labor. I love to hear birth stories!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the info! Hope I get a chance to use it next time around :)…. actually, I hope I don’t have a stalled labor, lol, but if I do I’m sure these ideas will come in handy :).


  2. Thanks for the great tips. Your suggestions, along with Laura Kaplan Shanley’s advice that I received from reading her latest book, “Unassisted Birth,” are most helpful to people interested in an unassisted birth.


  3. Just realized that I shared the wrong title to Laura Kaplan Shanley’s book.. the correct title is “Unassisted Childbirth.” Sorry for the confusion.


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