Prodromal Labor?!

L&D false alarm

Photo from our “false alarm” Monday night. Free cranberry juice and good ice! Wooooo.

Have you ever heard of prodromal labor???

I hadn’t either, until yesterday, when my lovely midwife kindly explained what it is to a very tired and frustrated me.

I was so happy I could have hugged her. Actually, I did hug her. She started it though, so it wasn’t weird or anything. I think. Anyways….

I was just so grateful to finally have an explanation, because this week has been dang confusing/frustrating/emotionally draining.
It all started Monday night – when we somehow found ourselves admitted to the most spacious delivery room in the hospital after going there for what we thought would be a quick checkup. We were sent home three hours later (after walking up and down the same hallway for two of those hours, no cervical change, and funky contractions). All of the staff was so nice, so awesome, and didn’t make us feel embarrassed for coming in at all….but I was discouraged because my contractions didn’t seem to “fit” into any mold I’d ever heard of.

“False labor” and Braxton Hicks contractions aren’t supposed to get worse when you walk around. They’re not supposed to get longer and stronger and closer together. You’re not supposed to feel them in your back and all that jazz.
That junk is only for “real” labor.
But “real labor” isn’t supposed to stop when you rest sometimes (but start, without fail, every time you stand up). It’s not supposed to last for a couple hours and then take a break. It’s not supposed to putter out when they hook you up to monitors. Contractions aren’t supposed to last 90+ seconds every time and come at unpredictable intervals.

So if it’s not “real” labor but it’s not “false” labor either, what the heck is going on?!

Answer: Prodromal Labor.
Essentially, this is labor that starts and stops at irregular intervals for an indefinite amount of time before actually progressing to active labor – or, labor that continues to augment until the baby is born.

Most medical definitions equate Prodromal Labor to ‘false labor’, or simply ‘failure to progress’. But I submit that this is not true. It is merely a different laboring pattern than what is seen in standardized/traditional/normal/textbook childbirth these days, and some doctors don’t like it. The American hospitalized labor and delivery system is not designed to handle it well. Most women who end up in this pattern of labor end up being induced nowadays, because it isn’t conducive to the monitoring and timing that most doctors/nurses/hospitals are trained to do.

But, my midwife assured me that it is a normal thing. No, it’s not much fun, but’s a perfectly fine, natural, normal, and safe way to deliver a baby. I completely believe that. I have total trust in my body and biological processes that have been around much longer than hospitals/modern medicine – and absolute faith in the Lord who I know designed this whole process and is watching out for me/supporting me through it all.

So, yeah. I’m going on day five of (intermittent) labor over here. Hanging out at home, staying hydrated, going on walks, waiting for something more to happen! The contractions haven’t been terrible – nothing excruciating or that I can’t talk through yet. Just uncomfortable and tiring. This process is extremely long and drawn-out and I have no idea when things will kick into high gear…

ANYWAY. I found these two wonderful blog posts that do a much better job of explaining what this kind of labor is all about, if you’re interested to learn more!
Red Light, Green Light…A Tale of Prodromal Labor
Bella Dolce Births: Prodromal Labor – what is it?

I’m not really upset about all of this, for the most part. Sometimes I feel like Nacho though:

“How come?” “HOW COME YOU THINK?!” hahaha.

So, yeah. How are YOU these days?! Done anything exciting?? Heard any good jokes? Have any good movie recommendations???? Seriously, tell me anything! There’s only so much I can do to entertain myself over here 😉

love, Rach

*****I just wrote an addendum to this post, and answered more prodromal labor questions here!*********

Yes, I have a midwife, but no, I’m not having a home birth. I am blessed to be part of a great healthcare system that has an awesome hospital no more than a 10 minute drive from my house. They have Certified Nurse Midwives on-staff that attend 85% of the births and have done nearly all of my prenatal check-ups, and I love them. The OB’s there are great too – they specialize in low-risk, low-intervention care.
Since I am not at risk, my baby is healthy and active, and I’m not planning on getting an epidural…getting to the hospital “early enough” isn’t a concern in my case. I am free to labor at home for a while! (until the nature of the contractions changes, or my water breaks. whatever comes first!)

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