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You are here: Home - Pregnancy - Labor & Childbirth

5 Things You Can Do If Labor Stalls

by Alison Wood | October 11, 2012 12:00 AM
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Favorite robe? Check.
Toothbrush? Check.
Camera? Check.
Back-up plan in case labor stalls...huh?!

Many women that are sporting the baby bump can tell you all their future plans. The nursery is painted in attractive blending hues. The crib, port-a-crib, baby swing and car seat are the newest ones on the market, coordinating perfectly together. The new bambino will be sporting the perfect layette -- comfy yet cute. It has already been decided if the mom is to return to work in six weeks, or if she is going to keep the home fires burning. A breastfeeding plan and pump are ready to be utilized. Lamaze, Bradley and Alexander classes have all been attended. The mom in waiting is now ready to let the games begin -- or is she?

A hypothetical situation that is oh-so-real-to-life is as follows:

As contractions become more frequent, regular and intense, an anticipating mom-to-be calls her doctor and rides to the hospital with her labor partner. This is the moment she has been impatiently waiting for. Quickly, she is admitted to the hospital. Contractions are coming on strong and the cervix is dilating. Nurses inform her that as time progresses, the contractions will increase with intensity and frequency. But, things do not go as planned.

"Hmm," the RN acknowledges, "Your contractions are becoming less frequent. Let's check your cervix again." After another check, she turns to the laboring mom, "You have not dilated any further. The labor is slowing down."

This is not something the mom planned to happen. What happens next? There are some ways a mommy-to-be can prepare for the unexpected.

1. Get Moving!

Even though you are extremely uncomfortable in active labor, movement aids in facilitating dilation. Get up and move, even if it is only a small amount of movement. Walking and standing are more effective positions to choose as they apply pressure to the cervix. Steer clear of staying immobile while lying in the bed.

2. Relax.

Quite often, stress inhibits the progression of labor. Turn on some serene music, dim the lights, and breathe deep. If the intensity of the pain is causing you to become agitated, consider swaying back and forth or rocking in a chair. Getting into motion helps relocate the pain so it is somewhat easier to to deal with. Another pain relieving option is a hot shower using a removable shower head. Point the shower head directly on the part of the body experiencing the greatest amount of discomfort. If you are still unable to deal with the pain effectively, consider a pain medication that you are comfortable using. Do the recurrent pain level questions perturb you? Express this clearly to your nurse and request the questions cease until labor takes off again. Ask any irritating people to leave, but invite them to return in a few hours for the appearance of the little one.

3. Stimulate your nipples.

This activity can release oxytocin into your bloodstream and get things moving along. You can utilize a breast pump or hand massage your nipples. You want to concentrate on the areola and try to mimic the sucking of a breast-feeding infant, gently rolling and rubbing the area. Only massage one breast at a time. The duration of the massage should only be five minutes. Wait and see how your body reacts, then repeat after 15 minutes. Do not stimulate the breasts during a contraction. Once labor has restarted and become quite active, cease stimulating the nipples.

4. Consider medical induction.

If you have diligently tried the above methods with still no action, consider some medical intervention to speed things up. The doctor may suggest oxytocin to be administered or may advise you to have your water broken. Both of these options carry some health risks, but may, in the end, keep you from needing an emergency cesarean.

5. Listen to the advice of your doctors and nurses.

The medical personnel have assisted in many labors, births and deliveries. Their knowledge can benefit you in many ways. If labor has not progressed for quite some time, and all other methods to kick-start labor again have failed, the doctor may order a cesarean. If the baby shows no sign of fetal distress, and you feel strong enough to wait it out, ask the doctor for more time. Sometimes patience wins and contractions heat back up. Other times, the stubborn cervix refuses to dilate and contractions refuse to resume. Be open to the fact that a cesarean may be the best choice for you and the baby.

Most likely, your labor will move smoothly and you will finally get to hold your bundle of joy in your arms. But if things do not go as planned, remember the above suggestions and techniques to assist you in experiencing a more productive labor and delivery.


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