Prodromal Labor: WILL IT EVER END????

So, this is going to be a pregnancy/childbirth post. If you don’t like these, skip it. But don’t worry, I’m not going to go into gory details here.

I’ve noticed I’ve been getting a lot of blog traffic lately from people searching to learn more about prodromal labor. I remember being in that position earlier this year, and how pitifully few resources I could find online, and my heart reaches out to all of you mothers experiencing this ridiculous form of early labor!

So even though I’ve opted not to share my full “birth story” on this blog – I do want to address some of the concerns that I had regarding prodromal labor, along with some of the concerns that I’ve seen via search engine terms. Keep in mind that this is only my friendly advice, that I would give you along with a hug and a huge plate of whatever-baked-good-you-are-craving, if we lived in the same geographic area. I am not a medical professional, and I have only given birth once so far.

#1: HOW CAN I TELL IF I’M EXPERIENCING A PRODROMAL LABOR PATTERN?!

Well, if you are having contractions that don’t follow a textbook labor pattern, chances are you’re experiencing prodromal labor. Here is a checklist that I just came up with real quick, that is by no means accurate for all women, but could be a good place to start:

  • Do your contractions get worse when you go for a walk, instead of going away like Braxton-Hicks contractions?
  • Does it almost feel like one LONG contraction with absolutely no breaks if you are up and walking around?
  • If you time them, do your contractions last for a freakishly long amount of time (90 seconds???)
  • Do your contractions stop when you sit down, rather than continue as Braxton-Hicks contractions would?
  • Do contractions start every time you stand up?
  • Have you experienced a couple hours [or more] of contractions, and thought things were progressing, only to have them putter out for no good reason?
  • Do you have difficulty timing your contractions, because the “start” and “stop” aren’t exactly clear?
  • Are your contractions irregular and inconsistent (i.e. 2 minutes between one set, and then 9 minutes between the next)?
  • Can you feel your contractions in other areas of your body (i.e. your back, lower pelvis, etc)?

If any or all of these things are going on with your body, then it’s likely your early labor pattern is prodromal.

#2: WILL IT EVER END?!

The short answer: YES!!! That baby can’t stay in there forever. Take comfort in that thought.
Also, most health care providers these days don’t let you go much past 10 days overdue. So within two weeks of your due date, you are bound to have a newborn to snuggle. Time definitely drags on and on and on when you’re prodromally laboring….but try to remember: it’s not that long in the grand scheme of things! You can do anything for this amount of time!

For me, I gave birth exactly two weeks after my prodromal labor started. Active labor began about one day before that. Don’t worry, prodromal labor doesn’t always mean your active labor and delivery time will be drawn out too! I just happened to have last-minute pre-eclampsia and some other fun things that made it a seventeen-hour ordeal. I did deliver vaginally and aside from pre-E and some meconium in the amniotic fluid there were no complications 🙂

Even though prodromal labor won’t last forever, it IS exhausting. Don’t be too hard on yourself for not getting the dishes done, or the floors mopped, or the crib set up. Please take all of the opportunities to rest that you are given! If your housework falls behind, so be it. It’s better to have a messy house than a crazy, sleep-deprived Momma.

#3: HOW DO I SURVIVE AN ENTIRE NIGHT OF PRODROMAL LABOR?!
Right, I’ve just told you to sleep and to rest, but how the HECK are you supposed to do that with all of these dang contractions?!??!?!?!!?!

Well….you do the best you can. Whenever the contractions do happen to stop, take a nap. No matter what time it is. If you have other children to care for, call up your neighbor or a friend or SOMEONE to take them for a little while so you can rest as soon as contractions stop!
Something that helped me was to watch movies that I loved or TV shows while I was up late at night with contractions. I also bounced around on a birthing ball incessantly, and made some pretty sweet pillow forts (and by “pretty sweet” I mean “I haphazardly pulled cushions off of my couch because I was too tired to sit ON the couch but I was tired of the birthing ball”). Sometimes being on all fours and doing some yoga cat/cow stretches was helpful too. I tried to keep moving as much as I could to take my mind off of the contractions, and to practice some deep relaxation breathing and meditate in order to keep irritation at bay. It worked…most of the time. Don’t worry. I broke down and cried plenty of times. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

#4: IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO MAKE LABOR PROGRESS?!
Honestly, there is no one reliable answer or “miracle solution” that will work for all women -no matter what else the internet may tell you. The best thing to do is simply to take care of yourself and be sure you are rested, nourished, and in tune with your body!

Remember to drink plenty of water, eat as you are hungry, and exercise if you are able. It is very important to keep in touch with your health care professionals as they recommend. At times there are other problems causing prodromal labor – such as your baby’s position within the womb – but your doctor or midwife should be able to diagnose and resolve any issues if you attend appointments, etc!

One of the only “tried and true” methods I have heard of is acupressure or acupuncture. It worked for a friend of mine [who wasn’t prodromally laboring, just shooting for a birthdate that she wanted]. There are certain pressure points on the body that can trigger contractions, help your baby “drop”, etc. but I would recommend consulting with a professional or at least finding more instructional information to read, rather than just Googling pressure points and pressing all over your body willy-nilly. But it’s up to you.

#5: HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY CONTRACTIONS ARE MOVING INTO “ACTIVE” LABOR INSTEAD OF THIS “PRODROMAL” BUSINESS?!

I hated when people would just tell me “oh, you’ll know!” so I’m not going to do that with you.

There will be a definite increase in intensity when your contractions finally kick it into high gear. For me, they started not so bad (“oh hey, that one kind of hurt worse than normal, weird”) and quickly progressed from there (“I CAN’T DO THIS!” – while crouching in the shower because I couldn’t stand anymore).

All of the things that previously stopped my contractions had no bearing on these whatsoever. Sitting down, taking a walk, taking a shower, bouncing on a birthing ball….it didn’t make a difference. Nothing I did made them better or worse. They were kind of like a runaway train. Ain’t no stoppin’ them now!

I couldn’t exactly talk to people or focus on anything else while going through a “real” contraction either. If I wanted to remember to breathe, I had to focus on breathing alone.

Every woman experiences contractions differently, and they feel different for everyone. Kind of like how some women get awful menstrual cramps and others don’t. So your experience might not be like mine at all – but just know that you will be able to feel a difference. Even if the weeks and weeks of prodromal contractions have kind of numbed you to the pain of contractions – the real deal WILL feel different!

——–

Alrighty, those are all of the questions I gleaned from search terms and such! If you have any more, please ask away!!! And good luck with the end of your pregnancy – I’m sending prayer and love and hugs and good thoughts your way! You’re one tough Momma!!!

– Rach

for reference’s sake, here are the only other blogs I have found about prodromal labor:

Hubbard 2010: Prodromal Labor AKA Continuous Pre-Labor
FrogBlog: Prodromal Birth Stories
Bella Dolce Births – Prodromal Labor, What Is It?
She Knows: What You Need To Know About Prodromal Labor

if you find any more, or write one yourself, let me know and I’ll link it up!!

*in a previous version of this post, I had offered to email information on Maternity Accupressure to those interested. However I didn’t realize this was illegal and I shouldn’t have been doing that! I have a firm personal philosophy against piracy, and feel awful that I engaged in it by sending that information on without paying for it. If you would like the information, unfortunately the website no longer exists, but there is a Facebook page. There seem to be quite a few good YouTube videos and other websites out there though! Do some research! 🙂

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20 thoughts on “Prodromal Labor: WILL IT EVER END????

  1. Pingback: Prodromal Labor?! | Waffles&Cereal

    • Haha thank you Melissa! You are too kind. My experience actually wasn’t that bad compared to others I’ve heard! And I can’t even remember most of it now, I had to go back and read some journal entries so I could even remember what to say in this post 😛 Becoming and being a Mom is tough, but so worth it!

  2. Girlfriend, you are one tough momma! And the more I learn about pregnancy and delivery, the less fun it sounds like. Wanna be my surrogate? Since you’re such a pro and will, I’m sure, have a couple more practice rounds before it’s my time for beybehs. 😉

  3. I have never experienced labor (3 time C-section momma here!) but it’s also nice to know and learn about labor pains and what not even if it is just referring someone else who needs it. You’re awesome Rach!

    • Thanks Hannah!! And it’s awesome that you share your knowledge about C-sections too, I’ve definitely loved learning about it and referred friends your way too! Either way your baby is born, it’s still tough! YOU are awesome 🙂

  4. ah ha! Prodomal labor, that’s what I’m encountering since last Monday evening (already 1 week past). Hoping to get into real labor soon and via natural birth. I got tired of timing the contraction intervals. Can I have a look at the e-book? lots of thanks 😀

  5. Came across this post while searching for any and all info on prodromal labor. Been going on for me for over a week and I’m getting super antsy to hold my little guy already! I know this post was written a while back but if your offer still stands would love a copy of acupressure suggestions. Much thanks!

    • Hi Rebecca! So sorry you’re going through this right now!! I’m happy to send you the PDF book. My WordPress notifications are all wonky right now so I can’t see your email address to send it to you directly – shoot me a message at wafflesandcereal@gmail.com so I have your email, and I’ll pass them on! Or you could post your email in a comment here. Whatever is easiest for you! Sorry for the hassle.
      Best of luck!

  6. I cannot thank you enough for the details you gave in this post. I am currently going through my 4th day of prodromal labor and EVERY single item in the first section applies to me. I’m getting worried that I really won’t know when active labor actually starts and it’s been very frustrating. I’m so ready to hold my little girl! It’s so crazy to me that even with childbirth classes, two pregnancy apps, and countless talks with mothers I’d never even heard about prodromal labor.

    Anyways, I’m trying to stay positive and I know it will end soon. It’s so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who is going through this.

    Again, a sincere thank you.

    • Ahh, Liliana, I am so sorry it took me two weeks to reply to you! I hope your sweet baby girl is here by now!!! I was so surprised that I’d never heard of prodromal labor until I was going through it, either. Turns out my Mom labored prodromally as well, they just didn’t have a name for it!
      I am so glad you found some peace in our shared experience, and I hope you are enjoying some wonderful newborn snuggles now 🙂 good work getting her here, and congratulations!!

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