Home Motherhood Birth What to Do When Labor Stops. Tips and Causes

What to Do When Labor Stops. Tips and Causes


Childbirth is as unpredictable as it is miraculous. While the anticipation grows, so does the uncertainty about how the labor will unfold. One phenomenon that can bring anxiety to expecting parents is a labor standstill, also known as “stalled labor.” In this article, we delve into what causes labor to pause, how you can help kickstart it, and when medical interventions might be necessary.

What Exactly is a Labor Standstill?

A labor standstill occurs when active labor suddenly slows down or stops altogether. Although distressing, this event often does not pose a significant risk and usually resolves on its own or with some assistance. A labor standstill could happen at any stage of the birthing process, and while medical guidelines provide some timeframes, remember that every person’s experience is unique.

Reasons Behind the Pause

Understanding the potential causes can help manage a labor standstill. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Baby’s Positioning: If the baby is not aligned properly, the labor process may face delays. Techniques like walking or changing body positions can sometimes adjust the baby into a more favorable position for birth.
  • Emotional Barriers: Feelings of stress or unease, sometimes called “emotional dystocia,” can impact labor. Being in a supportive and calming environment can make a big difference.
  • Physical Limitations: The size of the baby and the dimensions of the birth canal can also influence how labor progresses. In certain cases, a C-section may be recommended.
  • Anesthesia Influence: Use of epidurals has been associated with slowing down labor, though research on this is not conclusive.

If you have concerns, communicate openly with your birthing team—consisting of your partner, doula, doctor, and nurses—to ensure a supportive labor experience.

Actionable Steps: When Labor Hits a Roadblock

Here are some practical actions that can be taken when labor stalls:

  1. Take a Breather: Use the pause as an opportunity to rest and recharge. Labor is exhausting, and a small break might be beneficial.
  2. Get Moving: Activities like walking, squatting, or stair climbing can assist in repositioning the baby and may resume labor.
  3. Nipple Stimulation: This can naturally induce stronger and more frequent contractions. Consult your birthing team for proper techniques.
  4. Environmental Shift: Sometimes, a change in the surroundings can help. Dim the lights, play soothing music, or even change rooms if possible.
  5. Water Therapy: A warm shower can release endorphins that not only relax you but may also intensify contractions.

Medical Solutions

If natural methods do not jumpstart labor, medical interventions like the use of Pitocin or artificially breaking the water may be suggested. In some instances, a C-section might be recommended. However, you should feel empowered to ask questions and seek additional time if neither you nor the baby is in immediate distress.

Your Birth, Your Choice: Empowering Parents

Understanding that you have choices in the delivery room is crucial. If medical interventions like Pitocin or a C-section are suggested, feel free to ask why they are necessary and what the associated risks are. Always remember, it’s your body, your baby, and your birth experience.

Embrace the Uncertainty

Childbirth comes with its set of unknowns, and a labor standstill is one such mystery. Being informed and prepared can ease the emotional toll of this experience. Open communication with your birthing team can also help in navigating these uncharted waters. In the end, each birth is unique, and what’s most important is the health and well-being of both you and your newborn.

Written by
Clara Underwood

Clara is a lifestyle writer, outdoors enthusiast, and a mother of two. She writes about everything from weekend family outings in nature to fostering emotional intelligence in children. Clara believes that a balanced family life is the cornerstone of a healthy society.

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