Stuck in the Middle With You: What Happens When Dilation "Stalls?"

We send warm thanks to Meredith Herrenbruck for sharing her birth story with us this week. Meredith is a Transformational Life Coach and author of Becoming Ridiculously Awesome: A Self-Leadership Blueprint to Completely Transform Your Life. Meredith had prepared for an unmedicated labor, but after many hours, her cervical dilation got "stuck" at 8cm. Cervical dilation "stalling" or "labor not progressing" is the most common reason providers recommend interventions like oxytocin/pitocin augmentation in labor. Read on to learn how things progressed for Meredith and her baby Elyse. You can learn more about Meredith or buy her book on her websites here and here.

By Meredith Herrenbruck

It was intense and beautiful to have you come into this world. WOW!!
— Meredith

At 41 weeks, I was ready to have you, Miss Elyse! We were living in the still-being-renovated house with minimal furniture and things barely set up. So that Saturday afternoon, in preparation for the near future, we had a massage to relax and prep for our future. It was bliss! Mary, the amazing body-worker worked my ankles to get things moving. At 7:40 pm on Sunday, my water broke and we were on our way. I was surprised by the intensity.  Mollee, our birthing doula, said to have a glass of wine and go to bed. Contractions (surges) would probably start in the morning.

Well, that didn’t happen, and the surges started happening pretty instantly. What helped most was rotating my hips on the toilet and getting into the shower.  I don’t know why, but that water helped me like crazy. I just had to ride with what was happening.  By about 2:30 am, I was a bit scared and didn’t think I could do this anymore. Each surge was happening every few minutes. We had the car loaded up and went to the hospital.

Contractions were every few minutes. Once checked in, we went to the birthing room very soon after, with a contraction on the way. I looked at my partner Marc as he kneeled in front of me and said, “I think I want the drugs. This is insane.” He smiled softly and said back to me, “Well, you said you didn’t want them. I support your decision but let’s just wait until you finish this contraction, ok?”  I got into the tub about 20 minutes later and with water being poured on me constantly by Marc and Mollee, I got stuck at 8 cm.

I got stuck at 8 cm.
— Meredith

Mollee kept talking me through each second, keeping me calm and centered as much as could be done. Cervical dilation played a major role in my birth story. I was stuck at 8 cm for a while, which was misery. The reason? Elyse’s head was slightly turned and she had her hand on her cheek, almost as if saying “ho hum”. I was not feeling quite the same way! My midwife had to do a “sweep” with her finger 2-3 times and then my body could progress.

Once I got to 10 cm, I could push, which was an enormous relief.  Finally, we were ready to go to the bed and push! Walking 5 feet to the bed was misery, but after an hour of me being on my hands and knees on the bed, oh, it was a relief to push… you, Elyse, were born into this world. They passed you between my legs and I held you and put you on my chest, all the while saying “You are safe and loved. It’s ok.” It was intense and beautiful to have you come into this world. WOW!!

The ladies cleaned me up. I had the most delicious breakfast ever and then they wheeled us into our room. We stayed there for 2 days. For that, I was glad because I was exhausted, and it was great to have support whenever it was needed, to hold you, to let me rest, or teach me new tricks for swaddling or feeding. Our team was amazing. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Our team was amazing.
— Meredith