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 πŸ˜‰

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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23 thoughts on “Prodromal Labor?!

  1. Oh my goodness oh my goodness! I can’t wait til your baby finally decides to arrive! I’ve never heard of prodromal labor so this was good to read! When I was prego I just secretly hoped that my water would break so I wouldn’t have to decide when the right time to go to the hospital was. And then it did break! I was so relieved. Good luck when your baby comes!! I am so excited for you!!

  2. So happy to hear what’s going on over there!

    I “labored” for the last month of all my pregnancies. Learned after #2 what was real and when I was ready. With #3 & 5 we arrived less than an hour before the baby came out and I loved it that way, no time to get all the crap strapped on me and everyone and their best friend “check me.” Just got down to business and got it over with.

    In other news, I’m not loving my hair but not wanting to give up on no poo either. It feels clean and soft to touch but it looks greasy and stringy and it’s very staticy. (Not a word?) I’m going to start some adjustments tomorrow but each day is making me more and more disheartened.

    Can’t wait to see pics of the baby. Wish I could come babysit for you. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Keli!!! So good to hear you went through the same thing πŸ˜€ I’m hoping I can get to the hospital only when I need to be there, too!

      To be honest, I’ve been less and less happy with my hair as well. I do have a good adjustment so it doesn’t look greasy/staticy, but it just doesn’t look good when I wear it down. That could have nothing to do with the shampoo and everything to do with the fact that I should get it styled, though….
      I *do* like the castille+coconut milk recipe I shared with you, quite a bit. But my hair is kind of fine and for some reason that shampoo leaves a lot of buildup…but only on the back/crown of my head? It’s weird. I know the blogger recommended using ‘homemade coconut milk’ instead if you had that problem, but…I don’t have time for that πŸ˜›
      I will keep you posted if I find anything that might help you!! Good luck, it does take a lot of trial and error to find something you’re happy with!

  3. Oh my, totally did not know there were different types of labor?! I figured you were or you weren’t in labor. Thank you for educating me! I am sending the gift of Monday! Hoping it doesn’t beat your beautiful little girl there!!!

    Hang in there! You’ll live it!!

  4. I want to be able to say, “I know how you feel” but, sadly, I can’t. As a three time c-section Momma with no labor (false/real), contractions, dilations in any of my pregnancies, all I can say is,”Oh that sucks” and “You’re angel will be here soon!”

    Hang in there girl.

    Also, you rock that hospital gown!

  5. Hey, Rach! Thanks for commenting on my blog! I hope you’re done w/the prodromal pattern by now, and gazing into the sweet face of your brand new baby. I love that you’re a fan of Nacho Libre–that’s an awesome quote for prodromal labor! Just wanted to say it means a lot when people take the time to comment on my long-neglected blog. You’re not only reaching me, but others who will come across it in the future and sigh in relief at your experience. I haven’t updated in so long, but if you come back and let me know if you post your birth story, I’d love to link to it! Sadly, five little ones have just kinda gotten in the way of keeping the blog a priority. πŸ™‚

    • Hi Sarah! I definitely don’t blame you for not updating the blog – five kiddos are a lot to keep track of! I’m the oldest of six myself and remember helping my Mom…it’s a busy life! But I loved it, and would love to have lots of kids of my own, even if it means prodromal labor every time! (haha, well, that’s how I feel now at least!)
      No baby for me yet – but it’s been wonderful and comforting to read the experiences of others through your blog. I will definitely let you know when I post my birth story – anything to help other Moms going through the same thing!!

  6. a few things:

    I am all about letting the baby/labor/delivery do it’s thing, and I hear so many horror stories about doctors/hospitals pressuring/not letting Moms do what they think (and really is) right. It’s so refreshing (and reassuring) to hear a story where everything was just fine! I’m so grateful you are had a positive (if uncomfortable) experience.

    Now, it just so happens that I do know a few jokes (I realize I’m late on this….)
    What did the doctor say to the midget?

    You’ll have to be a little patient.

    What did the koala say at his job interview?

    I have all of the necessary koalafications.

    What do you call a bear in the rain?

    A drizzly bear.

    The end.

  7. I’m going through the exact same thing… It’s been going on for 2 weeks now and I’m so emotionally drained. I’m SOOOOOO grateful that someone else experienced the same thing cause I honestly thought I was going crazy every time I had STRONG contractions but doesn’t lead to anything. My husband is like “oh you’re just having more Braxton Hicks” and I would get emotional cause I know these are NOT just Braxton Hicks. Thanks so much for the post!! So I’m guessing the baby eventually came!?!?

    • Oh my goodness, I feel for you!! 😦 hopefully your labor progresses soon! Prodromal laboring is the worst!! But you aren’t alone! Everything will be just fine and your sweet baby will be here soon πŸ™‚ And yes! My daughter was eventually born! On March 4th, after two weeks of Prodromal labor πŸ™‚ I ended up having pre-eclampsia and a couple other fun things, but labor went well enough (it can’t last forever and then you forget about it later, that’s the real blessing in childbirth, right?? haha) and she is happy and healthy! Good luck – you will survive and everything will be wonderful!! You’re in my prayers πŸ™‚

      • Thanks for the reply. Can I get an invite to your blog? You can look at mine before to decide if I’m a creeper. HAHA. It’d give me something to do before the baby decides to come. This is my second baby! My first baby was a textbook labor…. this one is just going to do his own thing. πŸ™‚

      • Of course!! I’ll send an invite in a few πŸ™‚ there’s not much on the private one yet…so hopefully your baby decided to come before you’re done reading all of the posts (because it won’t take long)! πŸ™‚

      • Awesome! I love your blog πŸ™‚ and I sent you an invite, let me know if you didn’t get it and I’ll try again!

        My WordPress account used to link to an old blog of mine too…I think it has something to do with what your ‘primary’ blog is? Or what is linked to Gravatar? I can’t remember exactly, but if I figure it out I’ll let you know!

  8. holy poo! so that’s what it’s called! you KNOW i had this kinda labor, and it IS NOT FUN. 3 days of it before real ‘consistent’ contractions was highly un-enjoyable.

    ps. you love that i’m blog lurking right now. no one blogs anymore and right now i AM BORED, and you have good words to read.

    • Hahaha you’re right, I LOVE IT! And it’s so true, why have people stopped blogging?! I never have anything to read anymore!!

  9. Pingback: Prodromal Labor aka. Continuous Pre-Labor | Hubbard's Cupboard

  10. I went through this with all 3 pregnancies(only I didn’t know what it was called until after I delivered my 3rd)!! My first started 4weeks before he was born!! Plus I had morning sickness the entire 9 months. By week 39 I was so drained physically and emotionally I chose to
    be induced, I just couldn’t take it anymore!
    My second started 3weeks before he came. I had a single artery umbilical cord with him and had all sorts of monitoring. I went into labor on my own at 39 weeks.
    My third started 4weeks before. He had already dropped and I was “stalled” at 3-4cm. We walked and walked which only made them worse. The pressure was so bad that I thought he was just going to fall out, lol! I ended up going to the hospital the day before I was due. I ended up staying overnight and they induced me.
    All three boys were born very healthy and happy. I wish I would have had someone tell me what I was going through, it was extremely frustrating!

    • You poor thing!!! That sounds so draining!! My goodness. It can be kind of terrible when you don’t follow a “textbook labor” pattern, because doctors/hospitals/etc aren’t really trained to deal with situations like that, I can’t even imagine how difficult that was to handle three different times! Thank goodness you have three happy, healthy boys though πŸ™‚ I bet they are beautiful and worth the stress!

  11. Oh, my goodness…so happy to find this! I’m experiencing prodromal labor with my second -including a trip to the hospital like yours! – and it really stinks!!

    • I feel for you!! I’m so sorry! Prodromal labor is definitely not one of the things I’ve enjoyed most in this life. I hope your sweet baby is born soon! You’re in my prayers πŸ™‚

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