During my third pregnancy, I experienced quite a bit of uncomfortable prodromal labor – which is labor that seems to start and stop. For veteran moms, it can be especially maddening because we assume that we know by now what the start of labor feels like, but prodromal labor throws us many curve balls.
Some midwives believe that prodromal labor is common in moms who’ve been pregnant at least a few times, and they might know why. The wisdom says that the veteran mom’s abdominal muscles and uterus have already been stretched, so the tummy is more relaxed than a first-time mom. Because the tummy is more relaxed, this allows the baby to tip forward, off the cervix, causing labor to slow or stop. One of the most tell-tale signs of this exact situation is if early labor contractions seem strongest when the mother is leaning back in a reclining position (where baby would place the most pressure on the cervix), but slow or weaken when she stands up or bends over (where baby would tip back off again.)
One of the tricks midwives have to handle this is Belly Binding.
I was told to bind my belly by several midwives and doulas toward the end of my third pregnancy, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what to bind it with. Then, one day my friend from Thing-A-Ma-Slings sent me a stretchy cotton ring sling, and a light bulb went off in my head. The sling was the perfect thing to wrap around my belly to provide support exactly where I needed it.
I only wished I had discovered this trick sooner. The sling helped support my belly and provide counter-pressure on my hips to relieve all kinds of pregnancy aches and pain. Using this technique, I was able to walk through a museum with my kids for over four hours at forty weeks pregnant, and still felt great at the end of the day. I wore the sling all day, every day, and when labor began, I kept the sling on until I was ready to enter the birth tub. My chiropractor was even impressed when I showed him my makeshift support solution.
- Use a stretchy, cotton/jersey sling. A stretchy sling will provide the most comfortable, flexible support.
- Wrap it around your belly, with the rings starting closer to the middle of your back. As you pull the fabric through, the rings will naturally slide farther toward your hip, and should settle exactly at your side. You may have to try it out a few times before you figure out exactly where to start out.
- Once it’s in place, spread the fabric out across your back, and adjust it until it’s comfortable.
- Tighten at the bottom just enough to feel supported, but not so much that it would keep baby from moving down. Midwives recommend applying the most pressure to the top half of the belly so the baby is gently pulled in and down.
- You can use any size sling you have laying around, but I happened to use a “Mini Sling” which is actually a child-sized play sling, I liked that it had less fabric than a full-sized adult sling, which meant I didn’t look so silly wearing it. Most people thought it was a some sort of designer belt or wrap that I’d purchased. The Mini Slings run about $25, which is cheaper than many pregnancy support belts and far more comfortable.
Whether you’re a veteran mom experiencing prodromal labor, or a first time mom carrying a particularly heavy baby, belly binding with a ring sling can provide comfort and support in those final months of pregnancy.