Top Tips For A Slowed Labour or 'Failure To Progress'


In labour there is a phrase that is often not so kindly used to describe a woman who’s labour is not moving fast enough - according to folk who decide on the appropriate the speed of the average uterus! I kid you not! Such women, and you might be one of them, will be ‘delighted’ to learn the term ‘Failure To Progress’ will be written on your notes and perhaps bandied around. Fricking great! Just what you want to hear when you’ve spent the last 36 hours breathing, singing, dancing, swaying, hip circling and generally feeling like you’ve nailed it.

If ‘failure to progress’ pays a visit to your birth experience this could be because your baby is not in a great position (we talk about this or ‘optimal foetal positioning’ in my Hypnobirthing course), or there may not be an obvious explanation. Some babies and wombs just take longer to labour and birth, we are all different. It’s worth knowing that a few months ago the WHO updated their guideline to say labour should not intervened with and artificially sped up unless there is are real risks - read about that here. But you will almost always be ‘offered’ a medical augmentation. But before you make a choice about that (and perhaps show them the WHO article, if the particular hospital guidelines have not yet been updated) here are a few other ideas you may like to try:

  1. Think Mammal (hence my cat image on the post, incase you were wondering!!) Where would a cat like to give birth? Think about creating an environment that echos that, where you feel safe, secure, unobserved, private and can let the birth hormones flow freely. Is the room dark or dimply lit? Are you warm enough? Do you feel relaxed and safe? Are there lots of people in the room? Are they chatting and disturbing you, or asking lots of questions? Or worse still are they annoying you and causing your stress hormones to rise (the arch enemy of the birth hormone oxytocin). Change anything you need to. Ask people to leave or talk outside, ask for privacy and time, turn on some fairy light, start your aromatherpy vapouriser. Whatever works for you. Think about the birth environment in advance with your partner, as creating a ‘birth bubble’ and having them as your ‘gate keeper’ is so important.

  2. Get Moving. Try changing positions, walk around, sway or circle on a birth ball, get onto all fourth. Use the ‘Active Birth’ guide from my course for ideas. You could try the ‘side lying release’ as per Spinning Babies - Try anything to change the energy in your body, and to make to space and movement.

  3. Eat & Drink. Replenish your energy reserves. Low energy has a lot to answer for in labour, and its really important to keep hydrated too - your body is working hard (that’s why is called ‘labour’!). Plus eating yummy food also triggers the release of oxytocin. So make sure you pack lots of great grazing food and snacks.

  4. Get the oxytocin flowing with some love. So if your birth environment is bang on, try some other ways of getting the birth hormone oxytocin flowing. Kissing, nipple stimulation and even clitoral stimulation and orgasm can all bring a big oxytocin rush and get things back on track (you might want to get rid of the midwives first!!)

  5. Acupressure or acupuncture. You have the option of having an acupuncturist on standby as part of your birth team if you would like to. And you might have benefited from some acupuncture in pregnancy too. You can also get your partner or doula to give you acupressure or apply it yourself. There’s information in the Hypnobirthing Book on the course, and I give you another brilliant guide on this too.

  6. Free your mind and any blockages. Check in and make sure that there are no thoughts or feelings that might be holding you back. Talk to your partner or midwife. Voicing your fears out loud can bring on a physical release in the body. Cry if you need to and let emotional tension out. This psychological release can have a corresponding effect on your body, I have heard this MANY times.

All of these idea’s are definitely worth a try, they sound simple but can be hugely effective ideas to have in your birthing ‘toolkit’

Do let me know if you want any more information, or have other ideas that worked for you or that you heard about

Susan x