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Prodromal Labor, What Is It and How to Survive It

Updated: May 7

pregnant woman of color having labor pains

You’re probably thinking, what’s prodromal labor? There’s nothing like feeling contractions start, intensify, get consistent over the course of a few hours, and then fizzle right out as suddenly as they started.

And then, the next day, possibly around the same time of day as the previous it all starts over again. Sooner or later you land at your provider’s office with concerns that this baby is never coming. This is prodromal labor!

This could go a few different ways.

In this situation, as with most, how you view things makes a difference. The glass is half full vs. half empty mindset if you will. It can help to view prodromal labor as pre-labor instead of false or stalled labor as you may have heard it called. Referring to it as false labor tends to be more frustrating for the majority of people. After all false means, it’s not true. You're having real contractions so calling it false is lame! Stalled labor sounds like your body is being referred to as a car. Your body holds ancient wisdom, works more intricately, and is by far stronger than any vehicle built.

With pre-labor or prodromal labor, your body is gearing up and preparing itself for the birth process. After all, there are six ways your amazing body is making progress in labor and prodromal labor helps with part of the process. It's not just about cervical dilation. So, while prodromal labor is frustrating, things are happening! Doesn't progress sound much more reassuring than false or stalled?

Your provider may suggest waiting and doing nothing.

Your provider may want to send you for additional tests just to be sure you and your baby are handling the end of the pregnancy well physically. He or she might also suggest therapeutic rest. With therapeutic rest, you may be given over-the-counter medication or prescription medication and either be sent home or admitted and monitored.

Your provider may recommend induction of labor.

This will depend on a number of different things including your baby's gestational age and health, your health and risk factors, your specific wants and needs, and your provider's preference. Again, depending on several different factors they may suggest anything from sex, nipple stimulation, a foley catheter, pharmacological drugs such as Cervidil or Pitocin with or without a cervical ripening drug like Cytotec or Misoprostol, alternative medicines such as herbs or oils, or stripping your membranes. They might also suggest a combination of things. Be sure to talk with your provider(s) about your options, their personal preference, what the research says, and the risks and benefits for each before finalizing your decision.

How can I continue to endure prodromal labor if I'm not ready for medical intervention just yet?

3 Ways to Survive Prodromal Labor

Early Labor Projects

Get started on your early labor project list! Haven't created a list yet? There's no better time than now!

  • Put the final touches on your baby's nursery.

  • Organize your fourth-trimester wardrobe.

  • Finalize your labor playlist.

  • Get those baby shower thank you cards out.

  • Cook a few freezer meals

  • Bake muffins to freeze.

  • Get some light shopping done.

  • Shop for a few healthy things for labor; think protein for the duration of labor and natural sugars for the last burst of energy during pushing

  • Shop for non-perishable items that you can eat with one hand while holding your baby in the other! Things you can easily tuck into a diaper bag, purse, or throw onto a nightstand, items such as:

    • jerky

    • jello cups

    • peanut butter and crackers

    • Kind bars

    • nuts and dried fruits

    • Fig Newtons

    • And don't forget your favorite chocolates!

Adult Entertainment

It could be a few weeks or more before you get an adults-only date night. Whether alone, with your partner, or your kidless friend, take advantage of your final days without a newborn! Go see a movie, be adventurous, get a mani-pedi, or have dinner uninterrupted at your favorite spot. And hey, as long as you're not on pelvic rest and you want to, enjoy some private time, alone or with your partner!

Practice Relaxing

Hearing the word relax doesn't always have a warm and positive connotation. Take slow deep breaths. As you do this pay close attention to your body's response to your breath. If you're familiar with yoga you know that your breath directly influences your body's ability to soften, loosen, and relax. Relaxation is key in labor. Meditating and visualizing are great ways to busy yourself and also help your body on its journey. There are some great guided meditations on YouTube. If you can get yourself into a pool or even a deep tub your body becomes lighter, weightless even, and that can allow for even deeper relaxation.

Prodromal labor is a wild ride!

There is nothing like enduring contractions, especially those that seem to be doing nothing... Except that today you learned that prodromal labor contractions are doing something! Remember they are helping to tone the uterus and ready your body for childbirth!

lady wearing a rust colored dress and glasses smiles as she sits in a hammock chair outside

Authored by Elizabeth Luke

Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of The Jacksonville Baby Company. Elizabeth and her husband and best friend, Richard are parents to four children. With certifications in Postpartum and Infant Care Support, Childbirth and Newborn Care Education, Lactation Support, and Infant Sleep, she is a wealth of knowledge and has a heart that is passionate about helping parents live their best lives while also ensuring their children are safe, happy, and leading their healthiest lives possible! Contact us today to book support!

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