What If Labor Doesn’t Start? Causes And Immediate Solutions

You are waiting for a baby to arrive, but your baby not wanting to come out can lead to confusion and worry.

So, what if labor doesn’t start? Here, I will share with you what to do in such a case and all the secrets behind the phenomenon. Let’s dig in now! 

What If Labor Doesn’t Start? 

what if labor doesn't start

Doctors can help start it if the baby’s birth doesn’t begin, like labor induction, membrane stripping/sweeping, oxytocin injection, etc.

They know how to keep things safe and help the baby come out. So, don’t worry too much if labor doesn’t start.

Here are solutions for this situation.

Wait For Natural Onset

If labor doesn’t start, normally, the doctor will recommend you to wait for spontaneous vaginal delivery.

Detailedly, sometimes, even after your pregnancy has reached its full term and you’re past the expected weeks of pregnancy, labor might not begin right away.

It is quite normal, and there’s no need to worry immediately.

During this period, your doctor will observe your baby’s heart rate to ensure everything is okay.

They’ll also monitor the amniotic sac surrounding your baby to ensure it’s intact and not causing any concerns.

However, if labor is taking too long to start or there are no signs of labor as it should, your health care provider will talk to you about possible options.

Membrane Stripping or Sweeping 

What to do if pregnancy is overdue? If your baby seems not interested in coming out, your healthcare professional might propose membrane stripping or sweeping.

Your healthcare provider will use their fingers to carefully separate the amniotic sac from the wall of your uterus.

This action encourages the release of a natural substance called the hormone prostaglandin, which signals your body that it’s time to start contractions.

These contractions push your baby down and get things moving for childbirth.

Artificial Rupture Of Membranes (Amniotomy)

When the progress of labor seems to slow down or stall, your doctor might consider a procedure called amniotomy.

The method involves deliberately breaking the amniotic sac, releasing fluid, and encouraging contractions.

But it’s not for all cases. If there’s a concern, they might avoid this to lower the risk of infection.

Induction of Labor

What to do if labor is not starting? Labor induction may be introduced.

Your healthcare provider may use medications like hormone prostaglandin to encourage your body to start contractions.

Prostaglandin helps soften and open the cervix, making it easier for contractions to begin.

Labor induction aims to avoid potential risks that might arise from a prolonged pregnancy, such as complications for both you and your baby.

Cervical Ripening

For some, the birth canal needs time to soften and open. If that’s the case, your doctor might use cervical ripening methods.

The method could be through a balloon or hormone prostaglandin. It’s like preparing a pathway for your baby’s journey.

Oxytocin (Pitocin) Infusion

When labor needs a push, doctors might use the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is often referred to as the labor hormone.

It plays an important role in the contraction of the uterus during labor.

They’ll give it through an IV, which can speed up the process. But it’s closely watched, as too much can be intense.

Monitoring and Assessment

While waiting, fetal monitoring is key. Your baby’s heart rate and your contractions are checked. Your doctor also does vaginal examinations to see if your cervix is changing.

It helps them decide the best path forward.

Cesarean Section (C-section)

If all else isn’t working, a C-section might come to the rescue. It’s when your baby is delivered through surgery.

It can be necessary for various reasons, like if labor’s not starting or if there are risks to you or your baby.

What Are The Causes Of Delayed Labor? 

if labor doesn't start

Here are some culprits behind your delayed labor:

  • Wrong Due Date Calculation: It can lead to an overdue pregnancy and cause confusion and unnecessary concern for expectant women.
  • First Pregnancy: In pregnant women experiencing their first pregnancy, labor might be delayed as the body goes through unfamiliar processes.
  • Health Conditions: Certain health conditions, like gestational diabetes or spine dislocation, can affect labor by causing irregular contractions and delaying the onset of spontaneous labor.
  • Aging Placenta: An aging placenta might not function optimally. As a result, hormone production is being reduced, which can influence the start of labor contractions.
  • Uterine Issues: Uterine issues such as fibroids, deformities, or weakened pelvic bones can hinder the baby’s descent and slow vaginal delivery.
  • Smoking: Smoking during pregnancy can lead to restricted blood flow. It affects the baby’s growth and potentially puts off the delivery.
  • Ethnic Background: Genetic variations, like Hispanic ancestry, and differences in pelvis size influence the progress of labor in women.
  • Big Baby/Pelvis Mismatch: A mismatch between a large baby and a small pelvis can lead to difficulties in descending.
  • Shoulder Issue: If the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during delivery, known as shoulder dystocia, it can slow labor progression and require special maneuvers for vaginal delivery.
  • Difficult Labor Progress: Factors like rupture of membranes or slow cervical dilation can contribute to prolonged pregnancy and hinder labor progress.
  • Older Pregnancy: Advanced maternal age can trigger hormonal changes that impact labor, potentially resulting in overdue babies.
  • Slow Cervical Dilation: Insufficient cervical dilation can delay the onset of labor contractions and extend the pregnancy.
  • Spine Dislocation: Spine dislocation can cause discomfort and hinder the baby’s descent.
  • Previous Pelvic Trauma: Past pelvic injuries can impact the pelvic structure, potentially causing issues during labor and contributing to delayed labor.
  • Pelvic Deformities: Structural abnormalities like pelvic deformities can obstruct the baby’s path.
  • Weakened Pelvic Bones: Weakened pelvic bones due to various factors can affect the baby’s descent and contribute to delayed labor.
  • Uterine Fibroids: Uterine fibroids can disrupt the natural labor process by blocking the baby’s path.
  • Excess Weight Gain: Excessive weight gain during pregnancy might lead to hormonal imbalances, potentially affecting the timing of labor contractions.
  • Baby’s Unusual Position: If the baby is not in the optimal position for delivery, it can extend the childbirth process.
  • Vaginal Septum: The vaginal septum or other anatomical variations can obstruct the baby’s path, requiring additional effort during vaginal delivery.


When should I worry about not going into labor

What Happens When Pregnancy Exceeds 40 Weeks?

Risks can increase. Baby might grow larger, which can make birth harder. The placenta might not work as well.

The doctor will check more for any problems with the baby or mom and suggest inducing labor to keep things safe.

When Should I Worry About Not Going Into Labor?

After 42 weeks or when the doctor tells you there is a risk.

How Long Can A Baby Stay In The Womb After The Due Date?

Two weeks, but doctors should monitor the baby closely.


 What if labor doesn’t start? The journey of childbirth can take unexpected turns, but with the support of healthcare providers, the story can still have a joyful ending.

Don’t worry much. I experienced it, and I understand all the worries you may have. As long as you are cared for, your baby and you will be alright.

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