- Early labor comes on gently and doesn't pick up;
- Early labor comes... and then goes
- Labor comes at night and leaves during the daylight; or
- Labor comes on strong and then stops. And tries to start again, only to stop again.
What's the deal? "Is my starter broken?" Why can't labor get rolling? Here's why...
Typically, women are told that
Women may be told that:
Women aren't usually told that
Rest and the right maternal position will solve most of these. Go back to the First Principle, Balance, to make more room for the baby and once labor resumes, the baby may be able to fit the next time surges build up strong again.
Early labor comes on gently and doesn't pick up;
Early labor comes... and then goes; or
Labor comes at night and leaves during the daylight:
Hormones increase at the end of pregnancy helping prepare for actual labor. A rhythm of coming on at night is often hormonally related. These "practice" contractions are often called Braxton-Hicks. My friend calls them "Squeezies." They can be painless and thought to be the baby moving or "balling up," or they can be quite intense making a woman feel that she will have having the baby that day. The thing is, these don't change the cervix.
Don't be shy about checking in with your provider. Better safe than... surprised!
Labor comes on strong and then stops. And tries to start again, only to stop again.
Sometimes these are simply warm-up or practice contractions as described above. But when they begin in the daylight or after fetal movement, and don't change the cervix, then consider if the baby is
- Trying to change position, from posterior to anterior or breech to head down, for instance
- Successful at changing position (though it may not be the position you hoped for, so check it out)
- Trying to engage in the pelvis
Is baby Engaged?
- Natural labor often progresses when Balance activities are started first.
- Help baby engage by helping baby flex or tuck their chin.
- The Abdominal Lift is often amazingly helpful.
- IV Pitocin or Syntocin may make contractions strong enough to rotate, flex or otherwise make baby descend when natural methods either don't work or aren't known.
- Walcher's Brim Opening Position helps when contractions are regular.
Dilated to 3 cm yet?
But what if the bag of water has released?
A letter from a woman who can't tell if she is in labor or not, but thinks so.
“Hi, Gail, I really need some advice. i think i am in early labour, cramping, lots of irregular painful contractions, loose bowels i have been like this for nearly 3 days. I am getting frustrated because my back is really hurting too and I can't figure position of baby.
I have been told its posterior. I have been trying for days for a couple of hours each day to do all the exercises but nothing has changed except baby has been trying to move in the night.
I feel very tired because of the cramps at night i don't know how much longer i can go on for like this.”
"Your baby's position isn't causing this type of back ache, rather your uterine position is. To help release the twist in your lower uterus, you can do a number of things.
Try a complete Forward-leaning inversion on the stairs with your chin tucked. Have a helper to guard you. Kneel at the top of a short flight of stairs and crawl your hands down about three steps. Brace your elbows on that step and keep your knees on the landing above the stairs. Your helper is below you with their hands on your shoulders. Hold this position for 30-seconds or three breaths. Keep your chin tucked.
"Lean forward during contractions with knees slightly bent, move as you instinctually feel such an urge to do so with the contractions. Straighten your legs between contractions occasionally to rest your legs. When you lay down, rRest forward. Lean over a ball or back of the couch when kneeling on the couch.
"Try the Abdominal Lift and Tuck with your belly DURING your contractions.
If you can see a body worker,
Receive a standing sacral release and an abdominal release from a myofascial release person, cranio sacral therapist or a chiropractor that is trained in myofascial release. The Webster Maneuver, done by Chiropractors with the additional training, is one form of release for the round ligaments.
For those crampy contractions that do not lead to labor, some women have tried these things:
- Have a pot of red raspberry leaf tea (bulk not tea bag). The minerals in the tea seem to help reduce leg cramps and uterine “irritability.”
- Chewable calcium. (I don't suggest an antacid with calcium because I worry about heavy metals and a further disruption of stomach acid.)
- A shower or deep bath, lay on your side with a towel rolled up between your knees and thighs to relax your ligaments.
- Have a perception change. Don't think of this as labor. Your hormones are revving up. The Red Raspberry Leaf tea will help. Mind you this isn't raspberry flavored black tea, it is the real Red Raspberry plant leaf.
- Try and sleep and be in the moment.
- Eat drink and let your mind go so you can sleep.
- Review what your caregiver said about when to call, but let your mind get off the clock otherwise.
Caution, if contractions come before your baby is developed enough for it to be safe for your baby to be born
Before 37 weeks gestation or a week over 8 months, uterine contractions should not open the cervix.
If you are having 4 or more contractions in an hour, or if they feel strong with downward pressure, back pressure, blood, or water coming from your vagina, call your provider or go to your provider or a hospital immediately.
After you are past this crisis, drink plenty of pure water (I suggest 3 quarts daily, though 1 quart could be unsweetened red raspeberry leaf tea (the leaves not flavored black tea!), eat 4-6 protein servings a day, leafy green veggies daily, and a bit of salt-to-taste, as well as other healthy foods.
Body work, particularly the standing sacral release may reduce premature contractions. But you must be in touch with your provider and don't wait hoping these will pass.