Contractions That Come and Go…


Often moms get frustrated with contractions that come and go. This is an article about why that may be happening. I thought I could shed some light on this phenomenon. And let me say, this is one of the reasons hiring a doula is so helpful- it can help you recognize where you are in your “labor.” Many women have thanked us for keeping them from going to the hospital too soon and having the intervention train collide with them.

  • Dehydration: Moms will tell me that they are drinking tons… but often when I ask a few more questions the truth arises. I encourage women that when labor begins or seems to begin, drink a liter of water. It will rehydrate you if you are the least bit dehydrated. Women will drink other things besides water- but if it contains caffeine, those ounces need to be removed from your hydration fluids. If you should be drinking half your weight in ounces- which is a good idea- anything you drink with caffeine does not go into those ounces. Women will often without consciously thinking about it, stop drinking much after dinner to help curtail the trips to the potty during the night. So- hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Misaligned Baby: Often the contractions that come and go are due to a misaligned baby. Proper alignment does not mean just head down. Spinning Babies is a great place to start to learn about alignment. But this proper alignment needs to start earlier than later. That is why we offer the Aligned and Ready Workshop for couples to take as soon as possible in their pregnancy. If your baby is not turned ideally to the left side, get that baby lined up for your labor to keep going without the back labor and more easily.
  • Irritable Uterus: Some women choose to have vaginal exams in the end of their pregnancies, others don’t. If you are curious as to why you might decline- read this article. But if you have an exam and perhaps even have your cervix stimulated, your uterus may respond with contractions that begin but do not really lead to “real” labor.  This can also be caused by having intercourse for some women. That is not a reason to stop having sex if you are not preterm, but instead one of the things that can cause your uterus to react.
  • Dystocia: Fancy word for something funky is going on. Sometimes the timing is not right- and your body tried but your mind stops things. For instance, your mom is gonna be with you but has not arrived yet… or your partner’s flight gets in tomorrow… or the doctor you do not like is the one on call… or it is your ex husband’s birthday… You get it. Things are just not aligned right in your mind and body and contractions come and go waiting for that alignment.
  • Induction: Homeopathic or “natural” methods of inductions can cause prodromal labor to begin and not move forward for quite a while. We have seen many moms get worn out by some of these methods and end up finally in labor full exhausted. Here is an article about this type of induction.
  • Being Sick: When your body needs rest- perhaps you are under the weather or need to heal from a sickness, and your body begins labor and realizes that it needs to wait til you feel better.
  • Normal: Yes I wrote normal. I liken it to the older automobiles we had growing up. Some cars needed to be warmed up before you drove them. Some of our bodies and babies need time to warm up before things get really going. Consider this the time for you to practice all of those pain coping skills you learned in class.

Trust your body. Rest when you need rest. Follow the process. Don’t rush things. Eat, rest and hydrate. Labor that is real labor will not go away. Contractions develop a pattern and get stronger, longer and closer together for most every woman. Prepare for your labor to be long and be surprised if it is short! Take a great childbirth class and hire a doula- she really does make a difference!