jump to navigation

the labor that kept on stopping–my third birth December 15, 2006

Posted by guinever in birth, birth stories, birth story, midwifery, pregnancy.

It is often said that a woman’s first labor is long, her second labor is easy, and her third labor is unpredictable. Whoever said this must’ve been at my births because it mirrors my experience.

At 34 weeks gestation, I had 2-3 contractions an hour all day long. A few days later at my prenatal visit, my midwife wanted to check me to confirm that the baby was head down since she was so low. I was 2 cm dilated. I continued to have occasional contractions for the next six weeks. I had not experienced pre-labor at all with my first two pregnancies except the occasional Braxton Hicks while walking. So this was something new for me.

On a Tuesday night, my contractions started at 11 P.M. and quickly fell into a 4 minutes apart pattern. After an hour and a half, I called my husband Todd at work and asked him to come home. Then I got in the tub and labored there for a couple hours. We left for the hospital at 3 A.M. During my first contraction in the car, I moaned a little and after it was over, my boys ages 4 and 2, imitated me and started to hum. Even in my laboring state, I couldn’t help laughing. They were so funny!

The labor nurse assigned to me was somewhat clueless. She was going to take me to my room when a contraction started so I just leaned on the counter and she wondered why I wasn’t following her. Anita, my doula, had to explain to her I was having a contraction. Then later after getting settled into bed, the nurse asked me how long I had been shaking. I ignored her. She asked again. I still ignored her. She asked again. My nerves were frayed. I snapped,

PLEASE don’t talk to me while I’m having a contraction. Just a sec!

When my certified nurse midwife arrived, she just sat next to me and started peeling the EFM (electronic fetal monitor) off me. How awesome is that?? I never saw the likes of that thing again. Hooray! Eventually, I stopped shaking and my midwife said I was shaking because I hadn’t been relaxed. She checked my cervix and I was 6 cm dilated. Then a little while later, my labor really slowed down.

Todd and I walked the halls. I took a shower. Todd and Katie rubbed my feet to stimulate labor. I was having a light contraction every 20-30 minutes or so. We walked some more. I was tired. It was 7 am so I went back to bed. Almost immediately, my labor picked up and my contractions were once again four minutes apart. I was deep into Enya and my labor while Todd slept on the chair. I was glad I didn’t need him so he could get some sleep. Occasionally, my new and improved labor nurse came to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and to check my blood pressure.

Two hours passed. I got up at 9 am because my contractions stopped again, and then called my mom. By noon, I was beginning to wonder if we had done the wrong thing in coming to the hospital because it had been3 hours since I had had any contractions worth mentioning.

Maybe I was still just having a lot of pre-labor. (When I shared this with Todd, he said he didn’t think we were going to make it to the hospital in time for the birth so he thought we did the right thing in coming to the hospital when we did based on the circumstances at the time)

I was back to having 2-3 light contractions an hour. Ho hum. What to do??? I was thinking it, but Todd finally said it out loud.

Let’s go home.

We were considering at least leaving the hospital for awhile even if we didn’t drive the 45 minutes to go back home. I really needed a change of scenery. I didn’t want to be at the hospital if I wasn’t in active labor.

Meanwhile, my midwife kept busy. I kept hearing baby cries. When we arrived at 4 am, I was the only one there. Now the labor hall was full and babies were coming out in every room but mine! When would it be my turn?
I talked with my labor nurse about our plan to leave, and she said I’d need to go on the monitor for a half hour so they could document my stalled labor. My midwife came in and we asked her about leaving, and I asked her to check me. I was 9 cm dilated. I freaked out.

Here I was totally coherent, talking on the phone, eating turkey and gravy for lunch and 9 cm dilated. Which thing doesn’t go with the others??

I changed my mind. I didn’t want to leave the hospital when my cervix was so close to being completely dilated. Four more hours passed with no contractions.

I had been considering AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) for awhile and my midwife said she’d do whatever I wanted and listed a host of other possibilities (none of which I wanted.) So I had her break my water. My cervix had closed a little bit since the last check; I was now at 8 cm.

We waited and waited and waited. Nothing happened. Yikes. Did I do the wrong thing? Did I just put a needless time limit on the labor now that my water was broken? Approximately an hour and a half had passed since the AROM. I would have a strong contraction when the nurse checked Abby’s heartbeat with the doppler, so we did that a little more often.

Then it happened. Transition happened, that is. You know what I’m talking about. No turning back now. Contractions were long and strong with no breaks in between. I don’t know how much time elapsed. It could’ve been 20 minutes or perhaps only five minutes. But I had had enough and asked Katie to check my cervix and make me complete if I was almost there. That’s exactly what she did. I’d have to say that was the worst part of my labor. She had her hand up me and I was lunging forward, screaming and gagging, (everyone thought I was going to throw up in her hair; I didn’t, thankfully), yelling,

No Katie NO!” And she just yelled back, “PUSH. PUSH” So I pushed and then she was done. I was complete. Whew!

Katie told me to get on my hands and knees and push with the next contraction so my cervix wouldn’t close back up. Abigail crowned very quickly. Katie poured olive oil on my perineum and did a lot of stretching. I followed her instructions as to when to hold off pushing during the next contraction. My labor nurse was right beside me, helping me breathe and telling me when to push. Todd caught Abigail. In my hands and knees position, I couldn’t see a thing except the wall. I thought she had already been born when it was just her head and I wanted to turn back over and sit down. (that head was such a tremendous release I didn’t realize her body was still inside me).

My second stage was 14 minutes. And third stage was quicker at 6 minutes. My midwife asked me if I wanted to push the placenta out and I said no, I wanted to wait for it to release on it’s own. She said, “It already did; it’s sitting right here. I know you don’t want me to go in there and grab it–just give a little push!”

Baby girl. Abigail Helene. 8 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces. 20 1/2 inches long. I’ll always wonder when (and where) Abby would’ve been born had we been at home when my labor stopped. We wouldn’t have known I was 9 cm and I would’ve chalked all those hours of contractions to another round of pre-labor.

Read my other birth stories:


1. nicolle b - February 2, 2009

oh boy, you all are making me very nervous! im 35 weeks pregnant with my third son and i just assumed that it got easier each time. my first son was 19 hours of excruciating pain and im still not over it (11yrs later) my 2nd was a lovelly 4 hours (5yrs ago) so, i just figured that this time round, it would be a breeze? but im starting to think that i may be very wrong.

Nicolle, peace and happy thoughts I wish for you! ~blessings, Guinever

2. alli - January 27, 2009

WOw what a amazing story, i have been trying to find any info on what im going through and now dont feel so crazy and alone.
i have been in labour 3 x in 3weeks, i had a huge show at 31 wks and has only just stopped!! i went form 1cm to 3cm dilated in each labour, the last one was the worst 11 hours of active labour to the point i was in so much pain contractions 1 min apart 60sec long i was screaming for drugs,,,,i went in on the thusday night (contractions started at 12pm that day and went right through to 3am netx morn in hospital) and then they stopped,,,and started agin at 8am,,then stoped at 10am..guess what im still pregnant!!!! i was in tears and so tierd,,cldnt belive this cld happen…all my other births were not like this…just went into labour 1x and gave birth,,,(this is bub no4) and our last i said to hubby,,,he is sooooooo stressed seeing me go through all this pain and no bub,,,im 34 weeks now 4cm dialted and had a show….and had no contarctions for 3 days,,,(and have been for 3 weeks) im so scared next time it wont be the real thing and to tierd to go into labour a 4th time with no bub at the end,.,…im greatfull for your story as has given me hope that strange things happen haha…im in NZ..and your stiry has given me hope that baby will arrive and i cld be right now 7-9 cm dialted and have no idea haha…
thank you.

alli 34wks. labourd 3x
4cm dialted-had a show for 3 weeks.
bub no 4.

3. Joanne Gallagher - January 7, 2009

I had my show on 29 December and have been getting braxton hicks up until sat 3rd jan. I started having really painful contractions however they weren’t regular and if I’m honest they were all over the place. Monday night came and I was really irritable and uncomfortable and I couldn’t sleep. I gave up and got out of bed at around 04.45am and wentfor a bath then my contractions started and they built up over the day when I went to hospital building up to very paonful ones at 2 mins apart. Midwife did an internal examination and I was only 1cm dilated. I went home 2 wait for established labour but had to go back into hospital at approx 01.30am this morn (wed 7th Jan) and I was only 2cm dilated. Is there anything I can do as while I’m writing this message I have been getting regular really strong contractions that I,m doubled up in pain but do’t want to go to hospital again just incase I’m not in established labour. My midwife did a membrane sweep last nite but still no joy and I am 39 weeks pregnant. Wot can I do to help things along and progress quicker as this is my third baby and I never had any issues with my other two kids. Please help, desperate mum to be is getting desperate and very frustrated going about in all this pain.

Joanne, it sounds like to me that active labor is very close. Why not try taking a warm, relaxing bath with music and candlelight. Try to relax and embrace labor emotionally. Also with this being your third, your other kids may be holding your labor back if you’re trying to take care of them…~blessings, Guinever

4. Peta - September 21, 2008

I’m very glad to hear that I am not the only one questioning my sanity. I am ‘due’ to birth bubby #3 tomorrow, though it has been playing with me for 15 days now.
I have had heaps of braxton Hicks contractions since about 35 weeks with this bub. At 38 weeks started having strong contracitons while relaxing in the bath. They progressed to within 7 mins apart for a couple hours before stopping when I went to bed. Four nights later, I was calling the midwives and Grandparents at 11pm thinking it was all about to happen in the early hours of the night. I went to bed timing my 3 minute, 40 second contractions, only to wake 3 hours later all quiet.
I have continued to labour intemittently every day, with contractions building in the evening, for this last week and a bit. I have walked about 50km, slept less than 4 hours each nght and tried everything except for castor oil thus far. I calculate I have had close to 200 contractions!!!!
Last night I stayed up until 1:30am contracting at 6 minutes apart, sweating and breathing through the strong rushes. I finally went to bed, slept upright in small bursts until about 5am this morning when I could tell that my uterus was much more relaxed and I was not going to contract any moment soon. My husband woke to yet another tearful outburst.
I seem to build throughout the day to good contractions late at night, then when I am too exhausted to stay awake it all stops.
I have been questioning my mind and wondering if I am exaggerating the intensity of the rushes….then wondering what is holding this baby up – and the tired brain steps into worry overdrive…
AAAARGH! it is hard not to get emotional because everycontraction makes one sit up and take notice….then count the minutes following.
My hubby and mum both share baby’s due date, and I am exhausted, so I hope with all my heart to be welcoming this gorgeous, stubborn and attention seeking child into the world in the morning! Good luck to all of you sharing this plight.

Peta, soon you will have your baby! Try to relax until then. Thanks for sharing your experience. You are definitely not alone. ~birthing blessings, Guinever

5. Stephanie - June 5, 2008

I am so glad to read all of these experiences! I am “overdue” with my 3rd baby at 41 weeks and (I think) a few days beyond. I was “due” May 27th. It is now… June 5th. I have had two children– my son is 8 and my daughter is 3. Here I am, nearing my own birthday (June 14th) when I turn 38 years old. And I am STILL pregnant!

I had a very long, traumatic first birth with my son who was 7 days late from due date: living in New Orleans, single (no support) and alone in a sub-standard hospital– had an IV pitocin drip at 6 cm, kept stationary with all monitors attached, which developed into an epidural experience I will never forget (hated it! awful!). I chose the epidural and on went the chain of events for a day and half of labor. Monitors, IVs, pitocin, blah. My son was finally delivered by forceps. Phew!

Then my daughter’s birth (though 9 days late from due date) in sunny Santa Monica, California. I used hypnosis, meditation, and had a lovely 3 hour, all natural, wonderful, joyous birth. Yeay! I did it! So…

Here I am, puzzled, wondering why oh why this one has not come out yet. Baby number 3 should be easy and quick, I thought. Should happen now, I thought. 41 weeks + 3 days. Reluctantly, I went to the hospital this morning for a scheduled induction. My doctor (who beautifully delivered my “9 day late” daughter 3 years prior) wants to induce me. I am completely freaked out by this philosophy. However, since she seemed so concerned over the dropping fluid level for this baby — even though all non-stress test monitoring shows baby is fine– that she is pressing for the induction. I went, acting much like my 3 year old daughter: “i want to do it myself!” I cried and I was afraid and I burst into tears. They mentioned using Cervadil, and I said, “But, I am 3 cm dilated!” Ok, then, they would do a non-stress test and then check my dilation. “Ok. That’s fine.” So I sipped ice water and tried to meditate. My wonderful sweetheart held my hands and even kissed me deeply to relax me. Ahh. Relaxing more… The monitors were fine, nurses were sweet and caring. They thought the heartbeats looked great. One nurse checked my dilating cervix and said it was closed and not dilated. She was SO gentle! So she sent along another nurse who had the guts to reach in more and find that i was, although still high and posterior, 3 cm dilated and effacing. So good! I WAS dilated. My doctor calls and says, “So, what do you want to do?” I replied, “I want to have breakfast and walk on the beach, that’s what I want to do!” She gives me one more day, but doesn’t want to see it go through the weekend.

I have to go in a 9am. I am praying that I go into labor before then!

I walked a very long walk on the beach after leaving (and of course, breakfast!). I am now doing the laundry. I will have sex again and again. I had acupuncture 2 x, ate spicy food, Indian food (that worked for my other 2 children), and well, maybe another walk on the beach? More sex?

I had acupuncture last Monday, and that worked… a little. Brought on regular contractions 2 mins apart for half the night. Then stopped.

I had acupuncture last Tuesday, and not much happened. Had sex.

I had an exam Wednesday where one of the Docs in the practice stretched my cervix. Wow! 3 cms.

Here I am, Thursday. Went to hospital and felt like a little girl. Cried. Drank ice water during non stress test monitoring. Left the hospital to walk on the beach. Went home. Waiting.

Help or ideas anyone?

I am feeling a bit like an upturned ketchup bottle that someone wants to shake to get the ketchup out.

It sounds like you’re doing everything and more to try and go into labor. How about trying to relax and letting labor start on its own. You’ll be in labor very soon~ ~birthing blessings, Guinever

6. Jessica - May 15, 2008

This has been extremely encouragng to me as well. I am ten days overdue with my third, and have had false labor several times. With my first two I barely had braxton hicks so this one has been very confusing. I’ve been worried it is the position of the baby or some medical reason b/c my first two came very quickly, easy, and all natural. But this is reassuring that perhaps it is just my daughter not ready to come out yet. I tried castor oil which did not work. I really do not want to be induced at the hospital as I was hoping again to have a natural birth. How long do you think I should wait it out? I’ll be 42 weeks on Monday, and I had just enough fluid on Monday when they checked, but since then I’ve lost my mucus plug. I may be dilated to 2 or 3.

Dear Jessica, how long to wait it out is between you and your medical caregiver. Its wonderful that they haven’t pressured for an induction before now because most docs start talking about induction at 39 weeks…. ~blessings, Guinever

7. jenn - May 12, 2008

my 3rd son ended up arriving THIRTEEN days after my original post above. Wow. He definitely took his time. I tried a plethora of things to encourage him to come (acupressure, walking, sex, chiropractic, pineapple) and what finally worked (I think) is castor oil – two doses. Then he arrived in 3 hours start to finish, two minute intervals of contractions from the get go. It was great! So – just thought I’d post again because on lots of websites people post when they are waiting and then we never get to hear what actually happened. Take care!

Dear Jenn, Thanks so much for sharing! ~enjoy your little one, Guinever

8. Allison - April 22, 2008

This is exactly what i needed to hear. I started having contractions at 37 weeks, my other 2 babies were early so i figured it was the real thing. Contracted all day, then stopped overnight. That was 2 weeks ago and im still waiting. I’m 2 cm, still having infrequent contractions and A LOT of pressure, making it hard to do anything, let alone even walk. Another appointment today, hoping im miraculously 6 cm and they will just induce!

Birthing blessings to you, Allison! Just be patient. Your baby will be here soon enough. ~Guinever

9. Mary - April 19, 2008

I just stumbled across your blog while researching mother-ease diapers. I was drawn to all the encouraging natural birthing entries. I was planning to have my son naturally but it all went down hill after my water started leaking and contractions never began. My doctor, who was very supportive, was out of town and it was a constant battle with the doctor on call. Started me on pitocin, made me have antibiotics after 12 hours, after 15 hours of laboring well I was at 6cm and things simply were not moving fast enough for them. I was told I couldn’t have the baby vaginally and that suddenly my baby who had been in great position appears that he might be wedged. I felt like we were scared into having a c-section. Too delusional to fight anymore and with my husband in tears, I gave in. For our next child I think we have decided to do a home birth. Thanks for the encouragement. I have heard of other women who have their water begin to leak sometimes quite a while before birthing. Do you have any experience with this?

Dear Mary, sometimes it can take awhile for contractions to begin. That is totally normal. I’m so sorry that was your experience for your last birth. Being at 6cm dilated sounds great. You just weren’t given enough time. You can birth your baby vaginally; you just weren’t given the chance last time. I’m sorry that you had to deal with impatient doctors. There is lots of helpful information on cesarean prevention and vaginal birth after cesarean at the ICAN website. ~blessings, Guinever

10. jenn - April 15, 2008

Your story is just what I needed to feel encouraged today. I am ready for baby #3 to arrive and I laboured all day Sunday to no avail (it’s Tuesday). Something is happening now, but I just don’t believe it’s for real yet. This is so different than #1 and #2. Thanks for blogging.

Jenn, soon you will have your baby! Hang in there. Birthing blessings, Guinever

11. Rochelle Nelson - April 6, 2008

I have been having contractions and a bloody show for 3 days now. The contractions build and then lull again but never go away completely. I am hoping that the show is a sign that active labor and baby will be here soon! I have been 3 cm dialated for almost 2 weeks and 4 since wednesday (it is currently sunday). Any thoughts or ideas to keep the contractions going and speed this up?

Dear Rochelle, I think the best thing you can do is get well rested so when active labor does start, you will have the strength to handle it. Walking is good as well to help contractions start and get stronger. ~blessings, Guinever

12. Suzanne - March 17, 2008

This is so reassuring to me! I have a question for you. Have you ever heard of surges very similar to labor surges building like labor when you need to have a bowel movement? This has happened to me quite a few times. It’s like I’m going through the entire birth process when I have a bm. I’m 40 wks tomorrow and the doctor checked me last week because I’ve been experiencing surges and he thought I might be opening but cx was soft and closed. Then this morning I was up for hours with regular surges 5 min apart, they picked up until I went to the bathroom and after that they stopped. It’s very cool as I can practice my breathing techniques and I can use the same muscles for birth but would like a baby instead of…lol

Any thoughts or similar experiences?

Dear Suzanne, no personal experience with this, but I have heard other women say that this happens. The reason for it would be when the bowels move, that it stimulates the uterus. It’s good that you see it as a chance to practice your breathing techniques. You’re getting closer to having your baby. ~blessings, Guinever

13. Amber - March 14, 2008

This is my second pregancy I am 39 weeks went into labor on Tuesday and I dialiated to 5cm then my labor stopped, before Tuesday my midwife sweep my membranes. Ouch!! Now, it is Friday and since then I have had contractions but not enough to get this baby out. The baby is lower than it was on Tuesday! I’m just wondering is today the day? I never thought you can go into labor and have it stop?

Dear Amber, welcome to the world of prodromal labor. What you’re experiencing is very common, especially if it isn’t your first pregnancy. Peace, my friend. You will have your baby soon. Maybe today and maybe not until next week. What you’re describing is typical of sweeping the membranes. Lots of start and stop labor for a few days before “real” labor finally kicks in that will lead to the birth of the baby. Have you read the story of my 5th baby yet?…~birthing blessings, Guinever

14. Aliya - February 19, 2008

I have been 3 cm for about a week but the doc says im not thinned out, does this mean that it might take a while to go into labor on my own??? or should it be anytime now? Im going crazy

Dear Aliya, you could have your baby any day. Although thinning out is a process that can take a lot of time, it can also happen quite quickly. Only time will tell. Relax and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy. ~blessings, Guinever

15. Gina from Rochester NY - September 20, 2007

Have you tried any home remedies for labor such as sex, castor oil, or nipple stimulation? If you feel strongly enough then put off the induction for a couple of days. Walk like crazy! This is my 6th, and take it from me it seems impossible; but isn’t!

Have a wonderful birth, and I will say a prayer for you. 🙂

Thanks, Gina, for offering your voice of experience. ~blessings, Guinever

16. Sam Longford - September 13, 2007

Oh!! i am 10 days over with my third baby and have been 3cm dialated for 6 days now and have had constant braxton hicks. It has been the most frustrating time of my life. I have endured 3 stretch and sweeps which was not nice and am being constantly told how low down the head is and that my waters are bulging and it could be any minute now, all since last Saturday!
No one knows why labour has just not started. Am due for induction tomorrow and i really wanted a home birth. So third babies are extremely lazy in my eyes and the most frustrating experience.

Dear Sam, I hope you have your baby soon! And I hope you have the homebirth that you are wishing for. I have sent you an e-mail. ~birthing blessings, Guinever

17. Arkady - May 7, 2007

This post is very reassuring to me; I’m currently at 39 weeks with my third child, and thus far labour has been nothing like my first two. I’ve been having contractions 2-3 minutes apart for 4 days now. The first two nights, I called out the midwives (I’m having a homebirth) only to be told I was only 1cm dilated. I haven’t bothered calling them the past couple of nights because it would be too dispiriting to be told I’m STILL only 1cm. I have no idea how long this is going to carry on for – with no. 2, at this point I went to the hospital, barely got into the delivery room when my waters broke, and my daughter was born 15 minutes later. But this labour is so unlike my first two that I have no idea how much longer this is going to go on for!

18. Adriana - March 2, 2007

WOW! Your labor was amazing! I’m a 38 weeks pregnant and having the same contraction patterns, I was 4 cm on monday it is now friday and am not sure when I should go to the hospital. Your story really gave me an answer to a lot of questions I had about contractions, and how it’s possible for them to stop. I found your story very helpful since this is my first. Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: