All About Prodromal Labor 

If you’ve ever seen a woman go into labor on television or in the movies, it goes something like this:

…her water breaks unexpectedly, ending in a huge gush of fluid, and she immediately begins having contractions that cause screaming. By the time she makes it to the hospital, the baby is minutes away from being born.

This may be how it goes for some people, but it’s very unlikely to be how your labor begins or ends. In fact, many people have a hard time knowing they even are in labor and it may be days before you’re sure the baby is coming.

When labor starts and stops for some time before active labor begins, it is known as prodromal labor. Experiencing this can be frustrating and confusing, especially if you’re a first-time mom or you haven’t had the opportunity to experience this type of labor with previous pregnancies. 

Recognizing Prodromal Labor 

Many doctors refer to this phenomenon as “false labor,” but this isn’t 100% accurate. Unlike Braxton Hicks, your body is actually going into labor, but not for sustained periods of time. For a variety of reasons, labor is stopping instead of progressing or intensifying. These contractions often come at the same time each day or for the same amount of time. They usually won’t meet thresholds like the “4 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour” that is the go-to for helping you decide when it’s time to head to the hospital. (TIP: ‘411’ and other tools like it can be learned in a childbirth class)

Contractions that don’t have a pattern, don’t strengthen or become more frequent or can be stopped by certain actions usually indicate prodromal labor.

A number of things can cause prodromal labor, though it isn’t always explainable. A baby that isn’t positioned properly or something like an uneven pelvis may cause a physical block that stops labor from progressing, or a mental state of anxiety or fear can hinder progress. Prodromal labor doesn’t mean anything is wrong. In fact, it’s completely normal, though it can be frustrating and exhausting. 

Coping with Prodromal Labor 

Even though the contractions in prodromal labor are milder than active labor, they’re still painful and taxing on the body. Days on end of these can leave you tired and feeling too burnt out to manage once active labor begins. It’s important to take this time to rest as much as possible, rather than trying to force labor or stressing about when it will begin. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t encourage labor. Taking a daily walk, using a birthing ball, or even dancing are helpful ways to position baby properly and bring about more progress. But if you’re going to do this, do it in the morning, not at night when it’s time to sleep. If you need to slow contractions to get some rest, consider utilizing a warm bath to effectively help your mind and muscles to relax.

This is also a great time to practice other coping mechanisms that you’ve learned, like breathing or massage. It may help you understand what will bring you comfort in active labor and guide your partner toward these techniques. 

 Preparation for Prodromal Labor 

Knowing you, as a pregnant Arizona parent, value having a strategy behind the approach to your comfort in labor, I invite you to consider taking advantage of this evening ‘Comfort in Labor’ course to help you find methods for relaxation and pain-coping techniques that will match your unique childbirth style.

Unlike other classes, the hands-on tools shared here aren’t specific to any one method and can often be used WITH and WITHOUT PAIN MEDICATION during labor. Come away from this workshop feeling confident and secure in utilizing tools and techniques when and where they are useful for you, including:  Breathing techniques | Position changes to help progress labor | Positions for pushing | Relaxation and rest techniques | Birth/peanut ball use | Massage tips | When and how to utilize an epidural |  and more!

Simply find a time that is convenient for you and your partner and secure your registration for a ‘Comfort in Labor’ class and be well on your way as prepared participants in your upcoming AZ birth experience.