Ow!…another contraction. They come and they go. They start and they stop. They’re uncomfortable and they’re painful. I must be in labor…right? Not quite. This could be an instance of prodromal labor; and this may also be the tip of the iceberg into a ride of physical and emotional ups and downs.
What is Prodromal Labor
Prodromal labor is defined as an irregularity in the labor pattern with contractions. These are contractions that are not strong enough to bring on active labor, but are more consistent and stronger than that of Braxton-Hicks. Prodromal labor contractions can come and go for hours to days, and even weeks before the onset of active labor.
What it Feels Like
While prodromal labor IS a natural form of labor, it can be tricky to decipher. The contractions are long, strong, and coming rhythmically one moment, then suddenly they taper off. The next series of contractions come hours later. This contraction pattern occurs over hours; and it’s not uncommon for these contraction patterns to last several days. When prodromal labor is being experienced, the “end” may never seem to be near. The contractions can take one’s breath away when they come about. They can make one stop in their tracks and take notice. This
How Long Does Prodromal Labor Last
Prodromal labor can last hours. This form of labor can sometimes last days and even weeks. A dilated cervix is not the only indication that a baby is coming at any moment. These irritable contractions are working to move the baby down into the pelvis. The start-and-stop contractions are working to get the cervix to open, to ripen, and to thin out. The process of birth takes time. Sometimes the baby is ready to come, and the body is not. Other times, the body is ready for the big show, but the baby has other plans. The body and the baby are playing catch up to become in-sync. This is the dance of prodromal labor.
How to Cope
The thing with prodromal labor is that it can take a mental toll on an individual, just as much as it can take a physical toll. With the subjective appearance of labor, and the roller coaster of emotions that come with labor, excitement can turn into frustration. The idea that labor “needs help” can also begin to fester. This temptation to self-induce begins to overtake the notion that labor is a natural occurrence. Instead, this is the time to rest; especially when the body feels like resting. Move when the body as the body allows comfortably and feels good to do so. Seize the days as you would go about normally. Prodromal labor is the time to complete any last to-dos and checklists.
Taking your mind off of the “could it be time?”. Check in with your provider for reassurance of the baby’s tolerance to the process of labor. Additionally, if assistance is wanted, medical interventions can be introduced to allow for the body and mind to rest. Holistically, there may be positions, tips, and foods/herbs that can alleviate these prodromal labor pain discomforts. Contact your Doula! She can help navigate the emotions, provide physical comforts, and educate on what the body is doing as it prepares for the birth.
In conclusion, at any time during labor that a trip to the provider to get a check-in is desired, don’t feel guilty doing so. Either you will be admitted or asked to come back when contractions are in a more predictable pattern. A trip to the chiropractor, acupuncture, or massage therapist are some ways to gain relief from the perils of prodromal labor. Above all, listen to your body and know that no one is pregnant forever.