You’ve certainly heard of different childbirth stories where some mothers deliver their babies immediately after birth while others take 20-plus hours in labour. Childbirth is different for different women and expecting another mother’s experience may mislead you. 

During labour, a slow start is normal for many expectant mothers. But sometimes, active labour can unexpectedly be ‘slowed down’, stopped or stalled without a specific reason.  

When Is Labour Considered ‘stalled’ or ‘slowed Down’?

Active labour with dilation of about 6cm and above, which suddenly stops or slows down, means that the woman might experience prolonged labour or a stuck baby. In such cases, there will be: 

  • Reduced contractions
  • Dilating without contraction or 
  • Baby not descending to the cervix even with contractions. 

Why Does Labour ‘Slow Down’?

A healthy woman’s body is naturally designed to carry and deliver a baby without complications. However, some women go through a number of issues, some of which can slow down the labour process. These are such as: 

  • Failure of an induction process, presenting a whole lot of new challenges. 
  • Women experiencing emotional stress and anxiety due to a number of things that connects with labour and delivery. 
  • Past traumatizing experiences like sexual abuse, a feeling of being unsafe and violated.
  • The pelvis is small and not enough to allow passage of the baby’s head. 
  • Mother’s position during active labour like sleeping on her back.
  • Dehydration
  • The baby’s position, the head is supposed to be near the cervix opening ready to exit via the birth canal. 

Effective Tips to Speed up A Stalled Labour

Taking a walk can reactivate labour. Other tips that may work include:

  • Avoid lying on your back
  • Include a few exercises like squatting, sitting in a comfortable position 
  • Engage the mother in a conversation, to reduce anxiety and emotional stress
  • Try stimulating the mum’s nipple to increase oxytocin production 
  • Consider changing scenery and environment if your birthing centre or hospital facilitates it
  • Give the mum support as she labours.
  • Soaking in a warm bathtub, if delivering at a birthing centre, can be more relaxed
  • Occasionally, medical intervention might be the best choice for you and your baby.
  • Take a lot of fluids to hydrate your body. 

Here are not what to do:

  • Steaming your vagina
  • Self-prescribing pills for induction or pain relievers
  • Talk to your doctor in cases that are extreme, only you know and can feel the strain on your body. 

Long-Delayed labour can be exhausting to the mother-to-be and child. Therefore, it’s important to keep all avenues open for safe delivery. Health statistics reveal that nearly 50% of everyday childbirths end up in C-Section or in worst cases maternal deaths due to delayed labour


#Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: mymidwife, babygaga, standardmedia, spinningbabies, baby-chick, bellybelly

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