Cytotec (misoprostol) injuries or death? Medical records needed.

Hyper Stimulation of the Uterus cuts off Oxygen to fetus.

Hyper Stimulation of the Uterus cuts off Oxygen to fetus.

    From Jette Aaroe Clausen

I am engaged in the public discussion on induction of labor and misoprostol in Denmark. I and a colleague, Eva Rydahl, have addressed the Health committee in the Danish parliament. They have not banned cytotec but they have announced that they will do more monitoring of this and they issued a new circular making it mandatory for midwives and doctors to report side effects to off-label medication.

Eva and I strive to learn more about hyper stimulation and the way cytotec works. To do so we need patient records. We will of course treat them in confidence and not reveal any names. We will be grateful if we can be allowed to read any medical notes from patients (or their families) who have had adverse reactions to Cytotec (misoprostol). Fetal monitor tracings are especially useful to us. My colleague, Eva Rydahl (who is also on facebook), will also be happy to correspond with families. My e-mail address is jecl@phmetropol.dk I work at the Danish midwifery education in Copenhagen. I am an Assoc Prof of Midwifery and a researcher. Jette Aaroe Clausen, May 21, 2014

Giving birth is another elimination process

It feels so much better when it's all done.

It feels so much better when it’s all done.

Why do I say that birth is an elimination process? Something large is within a body cavity and it must come out. When it’s time, it will come out. It will come out no matter where you are, no matter how smart/dumb you are, no matter if you want it to or not. Even if you want to call the whole thing off and come back to it another day, it will still come out. You’ll be very uncomfortable when the body messages say “It’s time“. You’ll get the right information from the messages of that discomfort and you’ll know exactly what to do. When you’re done, you’ll feel a lot better!

(Now, go back and read what I’ve said and apply it to vomiting, pee-ing, poop-ing or birthing and see how it fits.)

Facebook favourite Updates

I’ve been on Facebook for five years, apparently. These are the most popular updates that I’ve posted there:

They are not “unvaccinated”. . . they have a natural immune system. Women are not “unmastectomized” . . .they have their breasts. Boys are not “uncircumcised”, they are intact. Every word creates a hallucination. When we hallucinate wholeness, wholeness will show up as normal.

Gloria Lemay

October 2013 393 likes

What do I want for my birthday? I want everyone who reads this to take 30 seconds to get up, walk through your place and turn off any lights or appliances that don’t need to be on, OFF. We make the difference in having our Mother Earth work. Thank you.

Gloria Lemay

October 2012 270 likes

If you’re hiring a doula to “enforce your birth plan”, “keep you home as long as possible”, and “protect you”, wake up and plan a home birth with an attendant you trust.

Gloria Lemay

July 2012 359 likes

I don’t know who wrote this but I found it very funny 🙂

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it will always be yours. If it doesn’t come back, it was never yours to begin with. But, if it just sits in your living room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your telephone, takes your money, and doesn’t appear to realize that you had set it free……. you either married it or gave birth to it.

July 2011 213 likes

www.pinterest.com

Courage

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, courage is a noun meaning ‘ability to overcome fear or despair” The fear has to be present in order for courage to exist. The English word “courage” is derived from the French word for the heart, “cour”. When someone finds the heart to continue on doing the right thing in the face of great fear, everyone around her is inspired to become a nobler human being. This is the source of courage for many midwives. In ourwork, we see women and men facing their fears in birth, we ask them to have faith in the face of no evidence, we demand that they be bigger than the circumstances and, when they conquer, we get a renewed vision of how life can look when our fears don’t stop us.

The paths of parenting and midwifery push me up against my fears and despairing attitude on a daily basis. Luckily, I have found teachers and teachings that have inspired me to keep going despite a rapidly beating hummingbird heart. When my daughters were very young and I was juggling my heart’s desire to be a good parent and make a difference in childbirth, one of my friends told me to use the affirmation “My vulnerability is my strength.” I thought she was insane and argued that if I lived by that slogan my children would surely perish. I was pretty sure that my strength was my strength—and by strength I meant my ability to force and push life to suit my will. I now know that true strength is an elusive quality of being able to strengthen others. At that time, I trusted my friend and, on faith in her alone, began toying with sharing my vulnerability. I tiptoed into revealing my fears and apprehensions to a few “safe” people and slowly began to realize that what my friend had given me as an affirmation worked a lot better than my stoic, stubborn, brave warrior act.

After a few harsh lessons, I began to realize that it wasn’t up to me to conceal information that was worrying me at a birth from the parents. In fact, if I am afraid at a birth, the best thing I can do is name the fear boldly and even ask everyone else present to say what his or her fears are. One of my dear clients released her membranes at 36 weeks in her second pregnancy. Her first birth had been a beautiful, straightforward home birth and I was deeply invested in her second birth being just as great. After four days of leaking, she began having regular, intense birthing sensations and we drove to the hospital for the birth. I drove and the parents were in the back seat of my car. As we approached the hospital, my hands on the wheel were clutched into white knuckles and a ball of fear formed in my gut. I started picturing the cord being whacked off immediately and the baby being taken away from Mom. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the father with his eyes looking terrified. I said to him “What’s your biggest fear right now, Brian?” He replied, “I am afraid we’re going to have a Cesarean.” I never imagined this would be his fear. A cesarean was not even a possibility, I explained, “Your wife is in strong birthing, she has already had one vaginal birth, the baby is small—for sure it will be born vaginally”. He asked me, then, “What are you afraid of?” I told him honestly “ I’m afraid that the baby’s cord will be cut too quickly and the baby will be taken away from Karen.” This had not occurred to him but he knew that my experience was a better barometer of things to come. He asked me what we could do to prevent this. I was able to tell him that it was very important to take the doctor aside out in the hall and tell him “It means everything to my wife and I that the cord be left to pulse and that the baby be placed on her skin until the placenta comes out.” We did a couple of “dress rehearsals” of what had to be said and then went in. The staff at the hospital respected the parents’ wishes to have the cord left intact. The birth went beautifully. I would have wished that the baby didn’t have as heavy doses of antibiotics as he was given (with resulting colic for months) but having a birth that involved no induction or anesthetics was a big accomplishment in these circumstances.

Nancy Wainer, author, midwife

Nancy Wainer, author, midwife


There was a period in my career when I was unable to divest myself of fear and dread. I wanted to have a breakthrough and so I decided to “import” some courage into my city. I thought about my heroes in the midwifery movement and asked myself “Whose the bravest person I know?” The answer was, of course, Nancy Wainer Cohen. Her book “Silent Knife” had kept my feet in the room at VBAC births where every cell in my body had been screaming “What the h— are you doing here?!!” I was pretty sure that if Nancy came and lived at my house for a few days, I could get some courage. My husband picked Nancy up at the airport and she came into my house and hugged me wracking with sobs. She cried her way through several boxes of Kleenex at the workshop she taught for my students. Her visit was four days of snot, tears and intense passion for healing birth. I learned so much about the vulnerability and strength connection. Nancy is still my hero in the courage department and she continues to live her life with her heart pinned right on her sleeve.

The sharing other midwives have done about their fears has strengthened me to face my fears of birth One midwife wrote in Midwifery Today that “the drive to the birth with all the “what ifs” running through my head is the hard part, when I walk through the door and see the woman, all that disappears”. Another midwife told me “The scariest thing for me is the first prenatal class of a series. Meeting new people who have so much riding on my teaching is enough to give me an ulcer.” An acronym for fear is:

F= false
E= evidence
A= appearing
R= real

When I am most afraid, it is because I have forgotten the truth about how loved and blessed I am. The fear can dominate and stop me or it can be used to alert me to something to which I am deeply committed. Using a journal to write out fears in the morning helps to clear the mind. Once the fears are on paper, somehow they seem less foreboding. Being in action is another antidote to the paralysis that accompanies fear. Any action—cleaning your desk, organizing a drawer, making a phone call—will bring a new perspective and lessen the dread.

My favorite philosopher about fear and courage is the Wizard of Oz speaking to the cowardly lion “Courage is doing what’s right even though you’re afraid.” I have learned courage from birthing women and other midwives. We are there to inspire and raise the bar for each other on what’s possible in the domain of courageous action.
This article by Gloria Lemay was written in 2003 and first published in Midwifery Today, Issue 67, Autumn 2003

College of Midwives of B.C.

Parents, grandparents, children and birth rights activists picketed the College of Midwives offices on Nov. 28, 2012. The College of Midwives conducts secret investigations and flagging operations to undermine the alternative birth workers in the province. By sending negative press releases and spreading half-truths and innuendo, they attempt to claim a monopoly on who shall attend births in the province.

Choice of birth attendant is a woman's right

From the film “Freedom for Birth”: — “One of the home birth mothers supported by Ms Gereb (Agnes Gereb, Hungarian midwife) decided to take a stand.
When pregnant with her second child, Anna Ternovsky took her country (Hungary) to the European Court of Human Rights and won a landmark case that has major implications for childbirth around the world.

Toni Harman, one of the filmmakers says, “the “Ternovsky vs Hungary” ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 means that,. . . now in Europe, every birthing woman has the legal right to decide where and how she gives birth. . .

. . .And across the world. . ., it means that if a woman feels like her Human Rights are being violated because her birth choices are not being fully supported, she could use the power of the law to protect those rights. With the release of “Freedom For Birth”, we hope millions of women become aware of their legal rights and so our film has the potential to spark a revolution in maternity care across the world. In fact, we are calling this the Mothers’ Revolution.”

Added on June 17 2013: EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS Fact Sheet
Under Article 37 § 1(c)of the Convention
Home Birth
Ternovsky v. Hungary
(no.67545/09)
14.12.2010
The applicant complained about being denied the opportunity to give birth at home, arguing that midwives or other health professionals were effectively dissuaded by law from assisting her, because they risked being prosecuted.
(There had recently been at least one such prosecution.)
The Court found that the applicant was in effect not free to choose to give birth at home because of the permanent threat of prosecution faced by health professionals and the absence of specific and comprehensive legislation on the subject, in violation of Article 8
Right to respect for private and family life.
Source: http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/FS_Reproductive_ENG.pdf

ADDED June 2017: A case involving a member of the College of Midwives of B.C.
MEGAN DOLSKI
VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016 8:22PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016 8:24PM EDT

The mother of a boy who was born with severely debilitating brain injuries on Vancouver Island has settled a lawsuit against her midwife and local health authority for more than $3-million, as well as annual payments that could add millions of dollars to the cost of the case.

The annual $400,000 payments outlined in the settlement are rare, but a legal expert says if they become more common they could add an unpredictable liability to the B.C. government’s finances.

Cabe Crossman was born in December, 2011, at the Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan, located about 60 kilometres northwest of Victoria. Due to injuries suffered during the delivery, he now has severe cerebral palsy and intellectual impairment, and will require extensive care for the rest of his life.

His mother, Sarah Corrin, sued her midwife, Selina Boily, the Vancouver Island Health Authority and two unidentified nurses alleging the care she received, first from the midwife and then at the hospital, was negligent. She alleged that her labour and delivery was not properly monitored, assessed or responded to. The defendants admitted liability and a B.C. Supreme Court judge approved a settlement earlier this month.

The boy’s life expectancy could be anywhere from 12 to 30 years, according to the court ruling, meaning the final cost to the provincial government could be well over $10-million. In addition to ultimately being responsible for the health authority, the province also sponsors the Midwives Protection Program, an insurance plan unique to B.C. across the country.

The program provides midwives with legal expenses and covers claims against them alleging negligence while practising, if they pay an annual fee of $1,800 per year.

A separate liability insurance program for midwives is also used in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. It was not immediately clear about the situation in other provinces.

The Midwives Association of B.C. says the cost of malpractice insurance was halved in 2007 by the Ministry of Health “due to the excellent record that midwives currently hold in relation to large claims,” and reduced again in 2014.

As of this year, midwives in B.C. are required to also hold commercial general liability insurance, which they can get through the insurance provider of their choice

Paul McGivern, a lawyer with Pacific Medical Law who specializes in medical malpractice and infant injury cases, said that over the past decade he has seen a trend in which settlements for obstetric cases in British Columbia have been going up – not in quantity, but in dollar value.

Mr. McGivern, who was not involved in the Corrin family’s lawsuit, has worked on many cases that have involved $3-million claims or more.

“Part of it is that the cost of care is going up. Part of it is that counsel are presenting much more sophisticated analysis of the cost of care – the evidence is getting better as to how much things cost,” he said.

However, Mr. McGivern said incremental payments in the agreement, without insurance backing, is unusual.

“It is very difficult to predict what your ongoing financial obligations are going to be,” he said.

“If you have one case or two cases, you can manage that. If you’ve got 100, 200 or 500 of those cases that build up over time, your finances can become incredibly difficult to manage and predict.”

A recurring payment in a case such as this “is not unprecedented,” said Barbara Webster-Evans, the lawyer who represented Ms. Corrin. “But it’s probably rare.”

Ms. Webster-Evans said the family requested privacy and that agreements are in place that prevent her from discussing the case in detail.

“Any of these cases when they occur are tragedies for the child as well as the family,” she said.
Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/vancouver-island-mother-wins-3-million-suit-against-midwife/article31403354/

Added July 11, 2017

B.C. College of Midwives demands ‘death midwives’ stop using title
College says midwife title is protected by law; death midwife says her use of it completely different
By Liam Britten, CBC News Posted: Jul 05, 2016 8:51 PM PT Last Updated: Jul 05, 2016 8:51 PM PT

Death midwife Pashta MaryMoon (far right) instructs others on a live model, how to properly wash and care for a dead body at home. The College of Midwives of British Columbia says the title “midwife” is protected by law and has sent a cease and desist letter to MaryMoon’s organization ordering them to stop using it. (Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives)
282 shares

The College of Midwives of British Columbia is demanding a group of “death midwives” stop using the term “midwife” when referring to their services.
The Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives is an organization that represents and provides awareness about “death midwives” — people who help a dying person and their loved ones with alternative funeral arrangements, often at home.
CINDEA’s webpage says they use the term “midwife” to “honour and parallel the role of a birth midwife,” but College of Midwives registrar and executive director Louise Aerts says the term is reserved under the Health Professions Act and CINDEA’s use is breaking the law.
“There can be a misperception from the public when a title is being used inappropriately,” she said.
“Part of the idea is to provide a sense to the public of what it means to be a registered health professional, and they know when those terms are being used, that there is a regulatory body overseeing the education and practices and standards of that profession.”
Even though death midwives have the “death” modifier before their title, Aerts says the potential is there for confusion.
“The public could conceive that they have the same level of training, the same level of oversight of their practice as do registrants of the college,” she said.
As a result, the college sent CINDEA a cease and desist letter this week to prevent them from using the term “midwife.”
• Death midwives offer a ‘more authentic’ funeral experience
• B.C. home funeral workshops teach loved ones to care for corpses
• Midwives call for better education and funding
Doubts about confusion
Aerts says she hadn’t heard of CINDEA until the CBC profiled the work of founder Pashta MaryMoon for a radio series.
MaryMoon says the term “death midwife” has been used for over a decade by people like herself, and she isn’t sure why it has become an issue now.
“We’re not talking about being a midwife for pregnant women,” she said. “People who are dealing with the death of a person have no confusion about what kind of midwife we are. So I don’t really see why that’s an issue.”

Pashta MaryMoon, seen here practising on a live model, says using the term “death midwife” has “nothing to do with being equally credible as birth midwives.” (Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives)
MaryMoon questions whether the College has the legal standing to stop death midwives from using the title, but admits CINDEA has no legal representation.
She also says CINDEA’s use of the title is not about claiming the legitimacy of midwifery.
“What we’re doing is reclaiming the ancient word and the ancient practice. It has nothing to do with being equally credible as birth midwives,” she said.
“It has to do with bringing back the original practice of caring for your own dead and the people who would support the families to do that, who were the midwives.”
MaryMoon said on Tuesday she wasn’t sure what CINDEA’s next steps would be besides consulting other group members and similar practitioners in the United States.

View story online (with photos) here:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/college-of-midwives-death-midwives-1.3666406

Birth without borders

I’ve been on a bit of a rant lately about “Keep those damn hats off babies”, “Take off those wet sports bras”, “Get everyone skin-to-skin, dark, private” and I get told that “We have to choose our battles”, “It’s important to meet people where they are and not overwhelm them with picky details”, and other variations of advice to STOP IT!

These things are HUUUUUGE to me. I only want to speak into the ears of those who want perfect births. I had a perfect birth. What is a perfect birth? It’s a birth that you look back on when your child is 30 years old and you wouldn’t change a single thing about it. . . every smell, touch, taste, word spoken and beam of light goes to the grave with you as a top of the mountain of life experience. It’s an experience that makes up for so much of the day to day b.s. that is part of living in a human body. It helps to salve the losses and the heartaches and gives you a glimpse of the bliss that’s possible when all the stars align on a really, really good day. That’s what I want for every birthing woman. When I saw this little video clip (I think it’s from Russia), it made my heart sing as I prayed that no one would enter the frame and interfere with this woman’s bliss (no one does). Unfortunately the sound is missing but I love it that someone turns off the lights so baby could transition to this bright world in a slow way. I also love it that the toddler comes in with questioning eyes to see what the heck is happening in his world and looks to the Dad with questioning eyes and is reassured that “Yes, this is different but it’s all good, sweetie.” I just made that up but I love my own version of things. Enjoy.

Hemorrhoid Treatment

Dear Gloria, I had a great birth with my second baby and didn’t even tear. Next problem, what do I do for a hemorrhoid though? Decent sized one, too. I’ve been putting ice and witch hazel on it. Do you have any tips??

Dear Catherine,
Yes, actually, we’ve just had a big discussion on that subject on the Ancient Art Midwifery list. After you’ve gone pee, got yourself a drink, and have 1/2 hour of “lying on your side nursing the baby” time, get a warm soapy facecloth and towel and get into bed with baby. Then, with just your finger, gently push the bumpy veins inside your bum and clench your bum cheeks tight to keep them in for the 1/2 hour. Clean your hands with the facecloth and dry them and then lie on your side, like that, with babe feeding/cuddling and you clenching tight for 1/2 hour. This allows the veins to be placed where they are supposed to be, reduces the swelling and allows the blood flow to resume properly. You may have to do this more than once but it brings instant relief.

Dear Gloria, Oh that’s great!! Will try this today as it’s the only part of me that’s sore!

I just put the witch hazel on it to reduce the size and did exactly what you said – I already feel better! Now I can enjoy my baby properly! I couldn’t sit at all. . . You have no idea how much you’ve helped me. . . I could burst into tears! Thank you!

Dear Catherine, Glad that helped, you’re welcome. I know you’ll pass the info on to others and help other women recover from birth smoothly. Love Gloria
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2016 Update: Just looking through some old emails and found this comment from a reader about using a tip in the comments of this article:

“An update about my behind… because I’m sure you’re dying to know 😉 The potato poultice that one of your commenters mentioned has been sent down from heaven on the wings of angels. I’m left with some extra ‘skin’ but most of the inflammation and pain is gone. All the blood has drained as well.”

end of quote.
So nice to know that this exchange of info really helps someone who is suffering. Keep the comments coming, please. Gloria

YOU’RE NOT IN LABOUR

425pregnant.jpgYOU’RE NOT IN LABOUR

These are difficult words for birth attendants to say; I would say they are right up there with “I’m sorry, I’ve made a mistake.” They are, also, difficult for the birthing woman to hear. I’ve been on the receiving and giving ends of those words.

RECEIVING END
During my first home birth (second baby, 12 years after my first birth), I “laboured” all day (5 minute apart sensations that I thought “really hurt”) and at 8 p.m., my mw did a pelvic and said “you’re only 3 cms., you’re not in labour. I suggest you send all these people home, stop entertaining, go to bed, get some rest and I have to go help some other midwives at another birth.” I remember (a) wanting to kill her  (b) knowing somewhere inside that she was right but not liking it and (c) going into the bathroom and crying my heart out. I did as she told me, went to bed and about midnight it swung into a whole different level of intensity. I could see what she meant that I hadn’t been actively having a baby during the day. I gave birth to my baby at 2 a.m. after about 4 hours of very high gear birth sensations.

What did my midwife do for me by “giving it to me straight”?

1. She gave me the benefit of her experience which was what I paid for.
2. She respected me enough to know that I could deal with the truth and she didn’t have to candy coat it for me.
3. She opened up the possibility that, yes, things could get harder but I could manage it.
4. She provided a model for me to give to other women.

At the time, I didn’t know that I would be attending births in my future but many of the things I learned from that birth now benefit the women I attend and those I teach.

At times, it’s tricky to know the woman who is “not in labour”. (I actually don’t use the term “labour”; I would use the term “not in the birth process” so I’ll change to that language now.)

A PRIMIP CASE

I was looking at a film this weekend of a 3 day marathon birth process. The birthing woman was having strong back to back sensations, feeling hot, in immense pain. She had a very good doula attending her plus her male partner. After three days of tiring birth process, she went to see her midwife at the birth centre and she was only 1 cm dilated. As I watched it (granted you can’t tell anything from a short film clip), I wondered if she might have scarring on the cervix from previous laser surgery. The other possibility is that she was scared to death and couldn’t dilate (it was a planned hospital birth centre birth with CNMs). At 1 cm she was given an epidural to get some rest and, the next day, “some manual help to get dilation going” (breaking up scar tissue, perhaps?) and she went on to birth her baby vaginally.

ANOTHER PRIMIP SITUATION

I was asked to help out at a birth for a midwife’s daughter. The grandmother thought the birth was imminent and wanted me to come over and provide support, camera operation, and rested after care person. When I arrived, sure enough, the daughter was in high gear and I proceeded to boil up the instruments and get things ready for the birth. Between the highly intense sensations, the birthing woman said to me, “Gloria, I like your running shoes.” At that moment, I realized that she wasn’t really in the birth process. (If a woman is really having a baby, I could be naked and she wouldn’t notice). I think this birthing mother had seen so many birth videos in her childhood that she was acting out the whole scenario rather than experiencing it. Needless to say, it was another 48 hours before that baby was born. Telling my friend who is a very experienced midwife that her daughter wasn’t even close to having a baby was not easy but it had to be done. With our own family members it’s often difficult to be objective.

A VBAC BIRTH THAT FOOLED ME

One of my VBAC clients called me to say she was having regular sensations. She seemed to be in the early stages of birth so I settled in to just wait it out. About 10 p.m. at night, things picked up dramatically so I decided to do a dilation check (this was 20 years ago). To my surprise and delight, she was 7 cms dilated. (that should have been a clue that I was making a mistake. When the external world doesn’t match the internal exam, check more carefully). I held her and massaged her all night long while the others slept. By morning, everything had petered out and I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t actively pushing by that time. She had been snoozing between her sensations through the night but I’d had her on the toilet, walking around, in the shower, etc. I did another exam only to realize, at that point, that I had completely blown it, she was only 2 cms dilated and wasn’t even in the birth process yet. That was one of those awful moments when you have to say BOTH of the top two difficult things at once. I said “Theresa, I’m sorry I’ve made a mistake. Last night when I checked you it wasn’t accurate. Right now, you are 2 cms dilated and you’re not in the birth process yet. I shouldn’t have been encouraging you all night that you’d be having the baby soon. Right now, the only way that this will work is if you’re willing to begin anew. Cancel everything we’ve done so far and get back to the very beginning. You need to eat, get some sleep, downplay this early stuff, relax. Everything is normal and healthy but I have made a huge blunder and I’m sorry.” The worst thing I could have done in this situation is to lie to this woman and tell her that she had gone backwards in her dilation—yes, many practitioners do this. It’s so unfair to a woman who already thinks her body might fail her. Not only that, but I think somewhere in the woman’s own “knowing” place, she realizes that she has not really been in the birth process.

This amazing woman did begin anew. She and her husband forgave me for my mistake, rested, ate, relaxed, summoned their patience and had a home VBAC for their baby. I will be grateful to them forever.

MULTIPS CAN HAVE THIS, TOO

Even though a woman has given birth before, each birth is different. We got a call from a woman who lives out in the country that she was in the birth process. Usually one attendant goes first to scope things out and the other gets called when the birth is close. In this case, I picked up my trusty partner, Mary, because it was a second baby and the drive was long. When we arrived, the mother seemed to be having a lot of pain and I went into “we’re going to have a baby mode” getting the pool inflated and supplies ready. On one of my sprints through the kitchen, I noticed that Mary was sitting at the table reading. I said “What are you doing?, the baby’s coming.” Mary looked up and said “She’s not in labour, Gloria, you’d better check her before you get too excited.” Ewwwwww! I hated hearing that, but, of course, she was right and I knew it even without checking. Her membranes were intact, so I suggested checking dilation and the woman was more than willing (another sign it’s very early). Sure enough, no dilation at all.

We reassured the birthing woman that things would get more intense and she definitely would have her baby. To give her and her husband some privacy, we went over to the local mall and told her to call us when the sensations picked up. She never called us so, after we’d spent all our money at the mall (only time I ever shop is when I’m waiting on babies), we drove home. She called back two weeks later and, this time, she was really in the birth process and pushed her baby out two hours after we arrived!

Added December 2014. Quote from Gail Hart, Midwife in Oregon.

We all need to remember that Prodromal Labor is NOT LABOR.. Prodromal is symptoms which occur BEFORE LABOR BEGINS and are similar to the condition of PreMenstrual Syndrome.
We should help women recognize this is normal. It is not labor. it is not a sign in anyway of anything being wrong. It is not a symptom of malposition. It is normal.

She just is not ready to be in labor — the hormones are not quite there. These women can be ‘not yet in labor’ for days, sometimes weeks. They should understand this as normal ‘discomforts of late pregnancy’ and use remedies if they need it — baths, distractions, sleep aids etc.

The contractions they are having are preparatory — preparing for labor — and women with a lot of PreLabor SYmptoms frequently have easier labors because their uterus is nicely primed for labor when it does begin.
It is not relevant to know how frequently they contract — but the length and strength of the contractions will tell us (and mom) whe she is finally tipping into Labor. Contractions which are less than a minute long are not likely to be true labor.

Added December 10, 2016: From Gloria Lemay: Many women do things to “get their birth going”. This can range from a 4 hour brisk hike, to acupuncture, to eating spicy food, castor oil, etc etc etc. When the body isn’t ready to give birth, all these things do is just drag out a ‘pretend’ birth process.
Another big pitfall, wasting the early period of the birth process by staying awake, chatting, texting, and socializing. In modern times, we don’t seem to have the older, wiser women to tell the younger women to “chill out” and ignore the early phase. When the woman stays up all night in early birthing, she basically works a graveyard shift. Then, her circadian rhythms are thrown off. No other mammal does this. Electric lights are no friend to a birthing woman. So, don’t blame the woman’s body or the baby’s size when a birth is not moving along. Look to the powers i.e. the strength of the uterus. There are things that the woman can do to get the birth off to a good start beginning with waiting till the baby is really ready. Then, guarding her privacy and being in the dark will help her pituitary to work effectively in producing birth hormones.