15 Things Pregnant Women Do That Stop Labor

There are two scenarios to discuss here. One relates to when a woman suspects she is, or actually is experiencing preterm labor, and will of course want to do anything she possibly can to prevent the baby from being born too early! The other is a different situation, entirely, when a woman who is actually in labor needs her labor to progress but something she’s doing is causing it to come to a grinding halt.

Consider the first scenario: A mama-to-be is experiencing contractions. Maybe she’s not sure if they’re the real deal or just Braxton-Hicks, those “practice” contractions experienced by many a preggo in mid to late pregnancy as a way for the uterus to sort of warm up for the big day. Maybe, on the other hand, she is sure that she is actually beginning labor — because her contractions are getting longer, stronger, and closer together.

But it’s too early! Her pregnancy has not yet even reached 37-40 weeks, and is not considered full term! Maybe it’s much earlier than this. While premature babies — with the expert help of today’s advanced medical technology — are often able to survive and eventually thrive in this life, it’s certainly ideal to carry a pregnancy to full term. Moms in this bracket will want to read on to know what some women have done to try to get labor to stop. (First and foremost, they’ll want to consult with their doctor and go straight to the hospital!)

And now consider the second type of labor scene: A woman’s labor has progressed “normally,” with contractions becoming more intense and more frequent, and then — perhaps once she arrives at the hospital — things seem to sort of just stop, or slow way down.

She may face pressure from doctors and nurses to get things going again. She may face being given Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contractions) to rev things up again, and therefore be much more likely to experience other (perhaps unwanted!) medical interventions, as well. All she wants, more than anything in the world at the moment, is to get her labor going again!

Now don’t consider this to be advice. Don’t consider it a replacement in any way for immediately consulting with a doctor or even heading straight to the hospital. But do, if you’d like, take a look at these fifteen things pregnant women do to make labor stop.

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15 Watched Pot


Do you breed animals? I don’t, but I’ve seen Animal Planet and read books about farms and have recent ancestors who depended on farming for their livelihood. From these strange and varied sources, I’ve learned that when a pregnant animal is ready to labor, she’ll crawl off to a cozy, quiet, secluded place.

Mammals labor best when they don’t feel watched. If a mama-to-be’s labor has slowed or stopped, some might highly recommend getting rid of some of those sets of prying (pressuring!) eyes.

Doesn’t it make all the sense in the world, though, really? What an intense, private affair.

Having sex. Taking a dump. Dying. These are some of the life experiences to which laboring and giving birth have been oft compared. Are these things historically done with a crowd of people watching? Not if you’re lucky. Are they done with a very, very small group of people, maybe zero to one, in a private place? I’ll leave you to ponder…

14 Hold It In


I did sooo much reading to prepare for my all-natural childbirth. In my mind, it was GOING to happen. I knew that for me the best way to make sure I would achieve my goal was to prepare my mind. And you know what? It worked.

The work of labor is so, so much mental. Yes, it is incredibly physical, and incredibly physically challenging — and probably more so because it is so unlike anything else we do in this wondrous life. But it is so much tied to our thoughts, because our thoughts are so much tied to our emotions.

Many a doula (a professional helper for labor and birth) will tell you that they’ve seen a woman’s labor come to a stop or extreme slowdown, then encouraged the expectant mother to try something extreme, in turn: the extreme release of emotions that is. If mom is holding back in some way, a doula may suggest crying, screaming, talking, or some other form of just letting it out.

This, on such a primal level, made SO much sense to me. During my labor, I made sure to let out all my pain through grunts, yells, words. I made sure, also, to encourage myself with positive phrases and words — spoken aloud — when I needed to. I made sure to say anything and everything that I was thinking that felt like it should come out.

A good strategy, if you ask me, not only for when labor has seemed to plateau but also for labor in general.

13 Stay Static


I can’t imagine how a woman getting into labor could stay still. I rocked, danced, and swayed my way through that shit — both times.

But beyond being a GREAT way to help a laboring woman to cope with pain, moving around is also a great way to help a labor progress.

If things are slowing down and you’re facing unwanted medical interventions, there are many tactics you might request to first try out, and this is the big one. Get moving.

It makes sense if you think about it, right? Where is baby trying to go? Down and out. If mom’s hips wiggle and groove, it can really only help junior to keep on keepin’ on as he prepares to make his grand, beautiful entrance.

Now I’m not saying it’s easy. You might be really, really tired. You might be uncomfortable as hell. But dig down, find your energy again, have some juice or a honey stick, perhaps, and do it, some will tell you. Moving has been shown time and time again to get the labor party started again.

12 Leave The Nest


Humans are mammals. I’m not trying to state the obvious, but I am, I suppose, preparing to draw some comparisons. You know how animals like cats and dogs will labor and deliver kitties and puppies, respectively, when they’re given a nice safe, warm place to do their thang?

We aren’t so different, are we?

A prime time for a woman’s labor to halt is after she arrives at the hospital. Where was she laboring up until that point? In all likelihood, the most comfortable, familiar, cozy place in the world: her own home. Where is she being asked to labor now? A place where sick people come for advice and treatment. A place she may have never even been in or stayed in before in her life. A place where strangers’ hands touch her and unfamiliar faces ask her stressful questions.

That’s why, especially if you’re aiming for a natural childbirth with minimal or no medical intervention, you’ll often read or be told by those you consult with that it’s best to stay home as long as possible. Of course some women even choose to deliver there.

11 Doctor’s Orders


If a woman not close to full term has begun labor, the hospital is the place to go. The doctor is the person to consult.

Though often a labor can only be delayed for so long, MDs have a few important tricks up their sleeves, and these tricks include the use of drugs.

Tocolytics are prescribed by doctors to slow or stop labor contractions. They may be given in conjunction with antenatal corticosteroids (also sometimes referred to as ACS). These are intended to speed up the development of a baby’s lungs, to better prepare her for an early delivery and give her a better chance of surviving and thriving. Antibiotics may also be given to kill infections. In this way, doctors give a baby born early as much help as they can to prepare to enter the world and breathe on their own.

So do know that if the contractions are real and labor does start earlier than anticipated, there are things that can be done to not only attempt to slow things down a crucial extra bit of time but also give baby a better chance of functioning well once he arrives.

10 Forget To Drink Up


Water. Agua. The clear/blue stuff.

It’s so important to stay hydrated, to live a healthy life in general, to have a healthy pregnancy, to breastfeed… and if there are contractions happening, rehydrating can cause them to stop if they’re not the real deal (just “practice” Braxton-Hicks contractions) or perhaps lessen in severity.

Think about it this way. What is involved in contractions? Muscles. When do muscles function well? When the body is well hydrated.

Athletes and fitness enthusiasts (yours truly, I suppose) know this one like the back of their hand. Staying hydrated is so, so important. It helps the body to function optimally and with less pain. It helps the body to recover. It helps people to feel healthy.

A doctor, nurse, or doula will probably tell you the same thing if you’re experiencing contractions: drink a full glass of water. And during your labor, keep the hydration up by sipping as you go.

9 Get Sudsy-Wudsy


Warm water relaxes you because it is so very, extremely effective at relaxing your muscles. Guess what? It can help your uterus to relax, too.

Not only a great pain-relieving technique for during labor, soaking in warm water may also be attempted to get contractions to sloooow on down. Your doc probably won’t advise this if your water has broken because of the risk that the water may make it more likely for an infection to be introduced. With the doctor’s go-ahead, though, women sometimes try taking a soak in the tub, or better yet spa-jetted labor tub, as a way of getting things to change for the better.

I read many, many natural birth stories as my primary way of mentally preparing to deliver my second baby with zero medical intervention. Many of the women I read about planned to deliver actually within their homes. (I did not.) Many of them also described having a helper sterilize their bathtub when the time came so that they could feel more comfortable laboring within it.

8 Blinded By The Light


A laboring woman, mammal that she is, probably tends to labor well when she is comfortable and feels safe and secure. You know where I did almost all of my laboring? In my quiet, dark, safe, wonderful bedroom (well, when I wasn’t in the bathroom… maybe it was more like halfsies…).

My doctor actually told me many women experience Braxton-Hicks (false contractions that help the body to sort of train for the real deal) or actually go into real labor at this time, the early hours of the morning when they’re safe, warm, and secure in bed. (Also potentially a rather orgasmic time for her — but that’s another article.)

What I’m trying to say through all of this is that if a woman’s labor is slowing or has come to a stop, one thing many a labor and birth pro may ask if you’ve considered is if the room is just too darn bright. You may want to sort of set the mood, you know? Hit the dimmer, or just turn those bad boys off entirely. Let’s get it on (the laboring, that is).

7 Walls Closing In


If a woman feels trapped, like the walls are closing in are her, perhaps some claustrophobia, some may suggest her labor may be affected. If she does not feel comfortable and safe, the rather miraculous hormonal processes her body must carry out for labor to happen may be sort of interrupted.

How about taking a little stroll outside? Not possible? How about just leaving, even if just for a few minutes, that little white box of a room?

Aside from the benefits of getting the body moving (which could also likely help a labor to progress or start up again), a woman may be able to feel much more at ease once she gets some fresh air and feels a bit more free. The chemicals the body produces in response to feelings of fear might be said to be sort of the anti-labor. The chemicals related to love, cuddles, and safety? Those are the ones you want.

6 Too Much Action


If you have or have spent much time around babies or toddlers, you’ll understand this one on a deeper level, indeed. Overstimulation can make humans really, really uncomfortable. When is it easy to become over-stimulated (and therefore stressed, cranky, and uncomfortable in general)? When you’re tired. When’s a prime time to become very, very tired, perhaps more tired than you’ve ever felt before in your entire life? While you’re in labor.

Having, plain and simple, just too much shit going on around you while you’re laboring can be really distracting, for one thing. At certain stages, or for some (me!), all stages, the work of labor can demand an incredibly intense, almost profound focus. How can we be expected do focus and do the hard work of labor and do it well if there are people buzzing in and out of the room, lights flashing, machines beeping, phone calls being made, and people asking us incessant questions?

If labor has slowed or stopped, a woman might consider making — however she can — her labor environment less like a buzzing public scene and a little more like a cave (Dark. Quiet.).

5 At Ease, Mom!


She’s never been through anything like this before. She may feel anything from nervous to scared to terrified. She may even have extreme fear connected to some traumatic experience from her past.

A woman experiencing labor and childbirth for the first time may understandably have feelings of uneasiness. Perhaps it’s not really fear so much as just feeling straight up uncomfortable.

If this is the case, finding some way, somehow, for the expectant mama to feel more at ease and comfortable in her environment is a tactic for trying to get labor going again or progressing well if it has slowed or even seemed to stop.

Does she need to hear some positive affirmations from her birth partner or doula? Does she need to repeat some positive phrases or enter into some contemplative mediation herself? What is her personality, and what might make her to feel more relaxed during this intense time?

4 In The Presence Of Not-So-Greatness


I’ve read a tale that goes something like this. Labor has progressed well for a woman, following a relatively “normal” or predictable path. In the hospital, a nurse is assigned to assist her as needed, and nonchalantly asks if it’s okay for a resident or nurse in training be present as well. Unable to think about much except for getting to and through the next contraction, she nods her head in agreement or at least does not seem to object.

Labor slows or stops. Contractions aren’t seeming to come on as strongly or as regularly as they previously did, and the woman realizes she is just not vibing the rookie, nervous, or somehow otherwise just not quite right vibes the resident or nurse in training is putting out. What does she do? Ask that this person leave (or have her birth partner or perhaps doula ask this person to leave). And what happens? Labor begins to progress well once again.

Whether it’s a staffer, unwanted visitor, or some other presence that is just not working with a woman’s labor energy, a tactic many have tried is to be suddenly more selective about who is allowed to be there.

3 Listening Her Way To Zen


Feeling tense. Feeling anxious. The mind is racing. The brow is furrowed. The jaw is clenched. It’s clear to those around you, especially if they know you well, that you are stressed out.

The chemicals that the body produces in response to stress and fear can really interrupt a woman’s labor flow. If it’s time to calm on down and try to get things going again naturally, some women have on hand a relaxation CD (or tracks on their phones).

There’s an entire “hypnobirthing” phenomena that some choose to train with and follow during their labors.

What works well for me? Guiding myself — through quiet, solitude, and positive thinking — to a calmer state. My breathing slows. My body lets go of tension, and I’m ready to go on.

Some women know ahead of the game, though, that it will help them to feel prepared and calm if they have something to listen to as a guide.

2 Foodstuff = Good Stuff


I’m sometimes surprised, in talking to women who have not yet experienced pregnancy and childbirth, how little the general public can sometimes seem to know about what it is generally recommended that you absolutely NOT eat while with child.

They’ll understand, of course, why I’m not drinking (and of course for many this is a telltale sign that something’s up and an early giveaway to their friends that they are indeed pregnant). They’ll be surprised that I’m not eating deli meat, though. They may not have realized that it’s not usually considered okay to eat sushi, or that it’s often considered important not to eat too much fish that may be high in mercury.

Then there’s also the path, gaining again in popularity these days, of consciously eating to maintain a healthy level of “good” bacteria in the gut, the better to have that healthy balance for when the “bad” or potentially dangerous stuff comes along, perhaps introduced by something undercooked or not correctly prepared.

Following such guidelines is a strategy many women take on, indeed, in attempt to avoid preterm labor. Being aware of what goes into the body means being aware of what will affect baby!

1 What Grape Juice Grows Up To Be

A woman’s labor is progressing normally or perhaps slowly, just getting started as night falls. The best tactic for her, she and her support team have decided, is to get some rest, for who knows what work lies ahead. (Actually, they probably do know, and it’s probably a lot of hard mental and physical work.) But how can she be expected to calm the mind, slow her racing thoughts, and allow her body to relax enough that she can get some rest and hopefully even drift off to sleep?

Her doula or midwife may recommend, based on their knowledge, experience, and training, that she end the dry spell of pregnancy and have a glass of wine.

This is not my advice to you, let me remind you. This is not what your doctor recommends — you’ll have to check with him or her to find that out. This is what I’ve read that some women have been suggested to try.

I’ve also read that if a woman is not comfortable consuming any amount of alcohol while still with child, she may attempt to get to that relaxed, sleepy state in some other way that works for her, such as drinking a glass of warm milk.

Doulas and midwives may also recommend the adult-beverage approach as a tactic to slow or stop a labor that seems to be getting started too early. Who knew?

Sources: MarchOfDimes.org, AmericanPregnancy.org, BellyBelly.com, BirthBliss.WordPress.com

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