No matter if this is your first baby or your fifth baby, every labor is different. Most moms, especially those of us who are more 'natural-minded' have a specific birth plan in mind and it oftentimes does not involve medication, inductions, or interventions from doctors. We will do everything we can to make contractions stronger before we go down the road of formal medical intervention.

However, sometimes labor can stall on its own, and the most important thing at the end of the day (or the end of a very, very long couple of days and nights) is that you and your baby are safe and healthy.

Second-time mom, Christina, tells of her experience with stalled labor and how she made her contractions stronger without the use of medication or medical intervention.

Christina’s story on her stalled labor and making her contractions stronger:

“The labor with my first baby was pretty textbook. I went into labor a few days after my due date, and I labored with him for about 8 hours before finally giving birth after about an hour of pushing. I was not induced, I didn’t use medication like an epidural, and I didn’t need any medical interventions. It was pretty straightforward.

“There was no reason for me to expect the labor with my second son, who was coming into the world about 2 years later, would be any different. I decided to have a home birth this time, and I had no real reservations about it since the labor and birth with my first child was so seamless.

“I went into labor a day or so before my due date. I was ready. I had my doula and my midwife at the ready. My husband was with me and we labored pretty steadily for the first 12 hours.

“Once we hit hour 13, I started to panic. It shouldn’t be taking this long. I was at 6 cm for the past 4 hours, and nothing was changing. I wasn’t dilating more and my cervix wasn’t getting any thinner. My doula and my midwife assured me that I was ok, and that my labor would continue to progress with the proper methods.

“I got into the labor pool to help my body relax a little bit. I took in fluids to keep myself hydrated but at this point I was starving, angry, and just ready to have this baby out. But I still wasn’t progressing.

“My doula suggested some things to help get things moving along. I walked around the house, I took a shower, and I even used a breast pump to help stimulate stronger contractions."

“Eventually, after about 48 hours with barely any progression, we decided to head to the hospital. I was in an immense amount of pain and I wanted to make sure the baby was ok. My midwife was able to check his heart rate throughout the stalled labor, and I thought he was ok, but I wanted to make sure.

“Once we arrived to the hospital, my labor spontaneously started up again. My contractions got stronger and closer together, and I went from a 7cm dilatation to a 10cm dilation in less than an hour. My second son was born within 2 hours of arriving to the hospital.”

What is stalled labor?

Christina’s story is not unique, and many women experience stalled labor. However, many do not realize that labor can often be stimulated again with a variety of techniques. If they are giving birth in a traditional hospital setting, they often find themselves being given medication such as Pitocin or an epidural to help “get labor started again.” And sometimes they are forced to have a c-section instead of the vaginal birth they planned.

According to, stalled labor is defined as “…a period during labor after a good contraction pattern has been established (in other words, you are in "true" labor and your contractions are consistently growing longer, stronger, and closer together) when your contractions space out or stop altogether.”

In Christina’s case, her labor was progressing as normal until she hit about 6 cm dilation. After that, her labor stopped progressing and her contractions became weaker and more spread apart.

However, her midwife and her doula gave her several techniques to help stimulate labor while she was laboring at home. They eventually worked, as Christina needed no medical intervention to give birth even when after she arrived at the hospital.

How to make contractions stronger

There are several natural ways you can make your contractions stronger and help stimulate labor again once it has stalled. These techniques are different than the ones you might have seen to start labor. The techniques used to start labor may not be safe, especially if your water has already broken. Introducing bacteria through a method such as sex or introducing certain natural products to your vagina are not safe if your water has broken.

Some of the techniques to make contractions stronger after labor has stalled include:

  • Standing and walking
  • Breast stimulation
  • Showering
  • Warm bath
  • Changing positions
  • Changing perspectives
  • Pressure techniques
  • Medical intervention

Standing and walking is one of the first methods that may help stimulate a stalled labor. Movement allows your body to relax, and standing puts pressure on your cervix. This can help start labor back up, especially if you have been lying in a bed like traditional births.

Breast stimulation can also help to stimulate labor. Stimulating your breasts, sometimes by using a breast pump, will help to release oxytocin into your bloodstream. This helps to bring on contractions.

Showering or taking a warm bath relaxes your body and your muscles. Your body naturally tenses during labor, and the stress of a stalled labor can increase that tension. In addition, a shower may help stimulate your breasts if you allow the stream of water to hit your chest. You can also add some essential oils like peppermint or lavender to your bath or shower.

Changing positions from lying in your bed or walking, standing, dancing, or rocking can all help to get things moving along. A birthing ball is often recommended during labor, especially during stalled labor. You can also use a rocking chair if a birthing ball isn’t available. Changing positions can be especially useful if the baby’s position is what is stalling labor.

Changing perspectives means changing your surroundings. Sometimes being in the same room, or the same couple of rooms if you are laboring at home, can be stressful when your labor is stalled. Go for a walk around your neighborhood, birthing center, or the hospital.

Pressure techniques such as massage or acupuncture are often very stimulating for labor. In fact, many massage locations will not do certain massage techniques on women in the third trimester because they can stimulate labor. According to VeryWell, “specific techniques in acupressure can hit points that allow your body to produce more oxytocin as well, thus increase contractions.This can be done by an acupressure specialist or a birth doula with special training.”

The last and the least desirable option for stimulating stalled labor is medical intervention. Oftentimes this will include using medication such as Pitocin which helps to contract the uterus and stimulate labor. If your water has not broken, a doctor will perform an augmentation (breaking of the water bags) in conjunction with Pitocin. Some doctors might also recommend getting an epidural to help relax your body into contracting on its own, especially if you are in extreme pain.

In extreme cases, doctors will opt for an emergency c-section. These are often called for if the mother or the baby is in immediate danger, or labor has stalled for so long and because other medical interventions have failed.

Having a stalled labor is scary. Christina believes that the change of perspective from her home to the hospital, as well as the movement of the car ride and the general relief she felt having medical care after being stalled for two days made her body more relaxed to give birth on its own.

Although medical intervention is sometimes necessary in order to keep mother and baby safe, it is often not the first choice. Even if you are not a first-time mom, it is important to have some of the natural techniques to make contractions stronger in your back pocket so that you can have them available just in case labor stalls unexpectedly.

If your labor does stall, don’t panic. Using natural techniques like moving around, using gravity by standing and walking, massage, changing positions, or even changing perspectives can help your labor to start back up on its own. Take care of yourself and your baby, even if that means deviating from your original birth plan. All moms will tell you that your original plan for motherhood will look nothing like the reality of motherhood- and sometimes that starts the day the baby is born.

Image: Ink Drop