Disclaimer: All information expressed on this site is not to be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your provider for more information.
I’ve been having contractions for weeks now, I’m dilated, I’m exhausted, but this baby isn’t coming!
Did you experience prodromal labor? Did you feel pressure from the outside world to have baby? Prodromal labor, aka “False Labor”, can be very confusing!
Here are some ways to determine if you are experiencing prodromal labor:
1. Last for hours, days, or weeks (yes) before active labor begins.
2. May feel like braxton hicks contractions but sometimes they can be much stronger.
3. Irregular in duration, length and intensity. May seem regular up to a few hours, but fizzle out.
4. May have a pattern and show up about the same time every day or night.
5. Will usually stop after a few hours.
6. May or may not be affected by your daily activity level.
7. Your cervix may begin to dilate, and efface and you may lose your mucous plug.
8. When in doubt, call your provider!
Prodromal labor contractions condition the uterus, and prepare the cervix for dilation and effacement and in some cases (like mine!) the cervix may even dilate and efface as a result. Many women head to the hospital only to find out after a few hours that it was ‘false labor’. In other words, the contractions stopped or are not progressing anything significantly. Being sent home can be emotionally confusing. You are left to wonder how you will know when it is the real thing. You might feel frustration going back to the hospital the next time, and then you wonder about giving birth on the side of the road!
Why am I getting “false contractions”?
This is a great question for your provider. I don’t have an answer as to why, but can I share my personal experiences. I had prodromal labor with Every. Single. Pregnancy. I was miserable, but finally by baby number 4, I figured out it’s just the way my body works! I experience braxton hicks starting around week 16-20, this is pretty common for many moms, but at times they become ‘regular’ for hours on end, progressing nothing. When I hit 34-36 weeks, I look like I’m in active labor, dilate to 3-4 cm, efface to 80-90% and everything STOPS. I typically have a few more ‘episodes’ before true labor begins and then it’s a good 24 hours until I meet my little one.
Sometimes prodromal labor is being prolonged by mom herself. Fears or anxieties , perhaps the fear connection is coincidental. It may also be that our bodies are just revving up for the big day, and needs a few practice sessions first. It may even be that baby is malpositioned, with his little head cocked slightly to the side (acynclitic head) or a posterior baby.
How do I stop these?
Braxton hicks contractions will usually dissipate with the different things such as rest, changing your position, increasing water, and making sure your bladder is empty. However, the problem with prodromal labor is that sometimes these things can make irritable contractions go away, but unfortunately there’s a good chance they will just keep coming. You should always have an idea in an hour or two, most women do not have labors that fast, and if they do, there is no question that what they are experiencing is the real deal!
As hard as it is, the best thing you can try and do is relax and go with the flow. Utilize this time to practice your different coping methods you plan to use in labor.
Another excellent resource: http://spinningbabies.com/more-info/in-labor/362-starter-broken-when-early-labor-lingers-or-starts-and-stops