If you have ever experience prodromal labor, you know that it is not easy! Today we're going to talk about what it is and how to cope with prodromal labor.
You can get through this! And there are some powerful benefits to experiencing prodromal labor for an extended time, so let's get into it!
If you are pregnant and dealing with contractions - you may be in prodromal labor. One of the hardest things for me during this time was learning how to cope with prodromal labor. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today!
(**Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. If you are experiencing contractions or any other symptoms, definitely reach out to your doctor for medical advice!)
My experience with prodromal labor began with a TON of Braxton Hicks contractions. I’d pretty much been having them since early in the 3rd trimester, but around 28 weeks they became a lot more frequent and intense.
Knowing I was high risk for preterm labor (check out this video), I began doing a lot of resting because I didn’t want to somehow initiate labor so early!
But over time, the contractions became more frequent. They still weren’t painful, but I could time them and almost every evening - I’d be having these “Braxton Hicks” or just tightening contractions every 5-10 minutes.
At around 34 weeks everything changed!
There was one day where I had this INTENSE pressure while a contraction was happening. It literally felt like the baby was trying to pop out of me...
I called the doctor and we ended up discussing the watery discharge and she wanted to test to see if my water broke (it didn’t).
She said the baby was really low and I was just 1cm dilated which was normal at this time. She did, however, speculate that I’d be having the baby sooner rather than later which only left me feeling more emotional!
Over the next week, I ended up in triage a few times because the contractions grew stronger and more consistent. I lost my mucus plug and continued to feel a strong pressure where the baby’s head was pushing down. I began to have sleepless nights where contractions felt crampy and more painful but still was not dilating.
What I thought was early labor (check out this video), ended up being what’s called prodromal labor. And it was hard to cope with not only because of the discomfort and pain but because it lasted so long my emotions were a mess!
What Is Prodromal Labor?
Prodromal labor is essentially feeling contractions that become regular but then stop for a time. This can happen on and off for days or weeks! (1) It typically doesn’t dilate you although it can and will eventually lead to labor.
During this time for me, I lost my mucus plug and the baby moved lower. But I never dilated more than 1 cm and the contractions never led to those consistent and active labor contractions.
How to Cope with On and Off Contractions
Coping with prodromal labor isn’t easy. Not only is it exhausting physically, but it is a roller coaster emotionally.
You may have nights where you are up with consistent contractions thinking, is this the night I meet my baby?! But then by morning it all fades leaving you tired and confused.
During this time for me, I realized two important things that helped me to make it through. I had experienced this type of labor for over two and a half weeks and so I needed some ways to cope!
Your Time WILL Come
Initially, I began to feel as if I were missing out on something. I had a friend at the time who had her baby and I found myself actually jealous and sad as if I’d lost out on something because my baby was yet to make his debut.
But what really helped with this was realizing that this experience was going to lead to labor eventually. The baby had to come out at some point!
It’s hard when you get excited and think today’s the day! Only to realize that today isn’t the day and neither is the next or the next….
In fact, the night that my water broke - just two hours before it happened, I ended up crying and totally overwhelmed because I just couldn’t handle the constant disappointment of going to bed thinking this is it! and waking up feeling normal again.
Your baby will come! As hard as it is to wait, try to remind yourself of that during this time.
Try to Treasure These Last Moments Before You’re a Mama (or a mom of another!)
I spent so long feeling sad that my baby wasn’t here yet that I missed out on so much of my time to enjoy the quiet and the state of my life before he arrived. Thankfully I did realize this and spent the last week or so trying to treasure these moments.
I ended up spending a lot of time reflecting, reading & doing devotionals, and journaling. It was honestly in these moments that I grew so much closer to God and really prepared my heart for motherhood. I also loved this book (affiliate link) as a powerful reminder of what motherhood really means and how to enter into this beautiful stage.
If you already have kids, take this time to treasure your family before another little one joins. Or if you’re like me and you don’t, treasure time just cuddling with your husband, treasure the quiet mornings and the time to shower and cook. Because everything is about to change!
Physically Coping with Prodromal Labor
Take this Time to Prepare
They say prodromal labor is a great way to prepare for actual labor and honestly I found this to be true. Some of the contractions I had during prodromal labor were pretty similar to the ones I had at the start of active labor.
During this time, practice your breathing and practice coping with the pain. Try out different coping techniques to see which work for you.
One of the best pieces of advice I got was to try not to focus too hard on it and do things to keep yourself busy.
Prodromal labor has to run its course. Don’t get so caught up in timing the contractions that you find yourself focusing solely on them. Take a few minutes to time them, just to be aware, but then put the timer away and focus on something else!
We actually ended up watching the entire Star Wars collection during this time because it was winter and I very badly needed distractions in the evenings.
Keep yourself busy (while still taking it easy) so that you don’t get too caught up with the contractions and lose your mind.
Actually Prepare for Going to the Hospital
Get your bag ready to go. The first time we rushed into triage, we didn’t have the bag ready or the car seat installed. We threw together a few things and threw the car seat in the car. That night when we got home, we made sure to get everything packed and for the next two weeks, we had everything completely ready to go.
And it was a good thing we did because my water ended up breaking in the middle of the night and we had to rush out anyway!
If you’re experiencing prodromal labor, I want to encourage you to hang in there. It will end but take the time to try and enjoy where you are today. The best and most exciting thing about prodromal labor is that it means your baby is coming soon!
I’d love to hear what you’re doing to cope with prodromal labor in the comments below!