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Prodromal Labor

Prodromal Labor: Definition, Causes, How To Cope-Up

Prodromal labor originated from a Greek word means “Precursor” and is considered as false labor. Prodromal labor is a kind of labor that starts and stops before actual active labor begins.

What Is Prodromal Labor?

prodromal labor

You’re big? You’re tired? Feeling a lot of pain carrying yourself? Having difficulties while you are sleeping? AND a lot more.

But you must be happy as you are going to welcome your sweet little baby into this world who has been staying in your tummy for so long.

With every pain you feel, is there any contraction? Well, let’s find out.

Prodromal Labor, also known as pre-labor, latent labor, and false labor & it makes pregnant women bewildered, restless and in a confused state but it is a misnomer.

It is a type of labor that happens before the full active labor but many women have described it as real contractions. The contractions caused by this labor may come and go in a short span.

It is a common occurrence mentioned by pregnant ladies in the last few weeks of their pregnancy. This pain comes at the same time, each day or at regular intervals and can be an irritating experience for some. 

We have seen that many new mommies or even experienced moms end up calling their doctors thinking that their actual labor begins but in most cases find out as false labor, as prodromal labor can start a few weeks or even months before the actual delivery.

But, the good news is that it is now quite common and there is no such issue, and you don’t need to take stress about it, as it usually passes in a few minutes.

(You may also like to see 31 Weeks Pregnant – Symptoms & Fetal Development)

Prodromal labor vs. Braxton-Hicks

Braxton hicks

Well, talking about Prodromal labor and  Braxton-Hicks contractions, these two are misjudged and considered to be the same But in reality, both of these are not the same.

There is a slight difference between these two and this is very common among pregnant ladies.

Braxton-Hicks contractions are also known as practice contractions. It has been said that majority of new mommies and pregnant ladies have experienced these types of contractions which means that the body is preparing for actual delivery.

These contractions may be very tight and you may feel uncomfortable, but these are not regular or intense. It has been said that you can ease these Braxton Hicks contractions by eating, drinking water or relaxing.

But the activities mentioned above - eating, hydrating or relaxing don’t help in Prodromal labor. Prodromal labour comes at regular intervals at the same time each day and may vary in intensity. 

So to sum up about Braxton-Hicks :-

  • Braxton-Hicks contractions usually start in the fourth week of the pregnancy.
  • It doesn't have a regular pattern and doesn’t come in quick succession.
  • It feels like tightening in the uterus.
  • Sometimes, it may be painful.
  • And it can be coped up by eating, drinking water and resting.

(You may also like to see Geriatric Pregnancy)

Prodromal labor vs. Active labor

labor pain

Prodromal labor makes pregnant women bewildered and restless and is a type of labor that happens before the full active labor and women have mentioned it as real contractions but these contractions may come and go.

But, the contractions caused by active labor will be stronger, longer and more painful as compared to prodromal labor

So, To sum up

  • Active labor contractions are more intense, longer and more painful.
  • The active labor seems like other types of labor, signs are like bleeding, leaking fluids.
  • Active labor contractions are more in power
  • Active labor Contractions lasts between 45 to 60 seconds, every 3-5 minutes

(You may also like to see How To Increase Milk Supply)

What Causes Prodromal Labor?

prodromal labor pain

There are many reasons that could potentially cause Prodromal labor but the doctors haven’t mentioned a specific cause. Let’s read some potential causes:

  • Baby’s position in the womb: You’ll be experiencing Prodromal labor when the baby is in a breech position. It’s the body’s way to try to move the baby into the correct position for labor. It may stop if it doesn’t work at the first try and will start again after resting.
  • Anxiety: If you are feeling restless or anxious and experiencing a lot of stress about your pregnancy and other things in life. You might feel Prodromal labor contractions.
  • Abnormality is the pelvis or uterus: chances are high that you may feel prodromal labor contractions if you have an uneven pelvis or uterus
  • Pregnancy history: It has been seen that if you have experienced pregnancy 3 times, chances are much higher that you will experience Prodromal labor because of the changes that have occurred in the uterus.

(You may also like to see When Do Babies Start Sitting Up)

What Can You Do To Cope-Up With The Prodromal Labor?

Now, after reading above, you know that prodromal labor is not real labor. But that doesn’t mean it will leave you in a comfortable state.

It is important for you to take a rest and gain some energy for your active labor contractions.

1. Take Rest During Prodromal Labor 

Taking rest while pregnancy

The contractions are real at this time and also the Prodromal labor is most likely to occur at night. So this will cause you to become overly exhausted before you even have that newborn to keep you up at night.

Take a nap whenever you can because you and your baby need more naps or rest than ever before. Taking rest is important because labor pain is taxing emotionally and physically.

That’s why you need to rest and allow your body to recuperate and also gain the strength that can help you to bear the pain later when the labor starts again.

If you cannot sleep, then that is fine. But spending time on the bed or just lying on the couch and reading your favorite magazine or watching TV will help your body to rest.

It is not advisable to go straight from Prodromal labor to clean up the whole house because this is not the correct time to tackle everything on the growing to-do list.

Just realize that your body is going through some taxing experience and give yourself some rest.

2. Accept it 

Pregnant women sitting on bed

Most of the pregnant women are trying to downplay the severity of the prodromal labor because they know it is not an active labor pain.

But because of the pain of prodromal labor, you are feeling it is a real labor pain and this pain is reflective of the labor pain.

You need to treat prodromal labor like so and not try to tough it out. 

3. Check The Dilation

Consulting doctor while pregnancy

Most of the women struggle with the frustration of prodromal labor because it is very difficult to distinguish prodromal labor from active labor.

Schedule an appointment during the day so your healthcare provider will check your cervical dilation.   

4. Warm Bath 

pregnant women Lay in the bathtub

Take a warm bath and relax. A warm bath can help you to take the edge off those contractions and also provide you some relaxation that you needed that time.

Add a few drops of relaxing essential oil like lavender oil or add orange, lime and lemon into the bathing water. But make sure that the water is not too hot because it is not good for you.

5. Distraction 

Reading Book During pregnancy

If you are experiencing the prodromal labor during the day then distracting your mind will help you to occupy your mind from the pain.

Engage your mind with something besides Prodromal labor like you can work on a crossword puzzle, start a side hustle or tackle the project for work.

Whatever you do, just get your mind off from your pregnancy for a little while. First of all, your goal is to tackle the stress and anxiety.

For this just take a mental break from your pregnancy and give your brain a few hours without the stress hormones of attacking it. It can be just a bit of the respite that your brain is desperately needed.

Some women try knitting, watch Netflix and some try to wash baby clothes or just start to read baby books to distract their mind. But if nothing is working for you, then try to talk to someone who is close to you.

Alternatively, you can also arrange ladies' night out or a special date with your man. This will help your prodromal labor to pick back up.

6. Yoga 

Doing Yoga During pregnancy

Doing exercise or yoga poses is not good for you, but doing some gentle stretching that yoga provides can give you some relief. 

7. Change Your Position During Prodromal Labor 

Pregnant women lay on bed

Prodromal labor is not usually relieved when you reposition yourself, but the intensity of the pain will decrease in the different positions, particularly side-lying, hand, and knees or squatting. 

8. Massage

Giving massage to pregnant women

Treating yourself in a spa can make you relax and also take your mind off the labor. Pampering yourself also contains many health benefits.

So, just focus and do something great for yourself because when the baby arrives then you might not get another opportunity to pamper yourself again. Take a relaxing massage at home or just go to the spa.

You can also have your partner to give you a massage or gently rub your belly. The massage will provide you relief for your tense muscles and also hopefully it will lessen the intensity that you are feeling.

But if your partner is not willing to give you a massage then just go to the spa or try to consider a professional prenatal massage.

Use scented oil for a massage that makes you relax and let go of all the anxiety. Only concentrate on the feeling of letting everything else go. 

9. Get Moving

Pregnant women

It’s also likely that Prodromal labor is the result of your baby being in the incorrect birthing position. If you get up and keep moving, then you can encourage the baby to make the transition into the proper position.

This trick does not always work, but there are high chances in your baby reposition that your Prodromal labor will end.

10. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water

If you are not consuming enough liquid then the strength and intensity of the prodromal labor can become worse.

Dehydration can also lead you to many other issues and also for your baby. 

11. Keep Eating

Eating while pregnancy

The pain that is associated with prodromal labor may also make you cringe at the thought of food. So, it is important for you to still get enough nutrients and also for your baby.

Try to eat some simple snacks like bananas and a granola bar. Eating them can give you extra energy to bear the pain once the active labor begins.

12. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea 

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea For Prodromal Labor

If your healthcare provider gives you the permission to consume this product then it is beneficial for the Prodromal labor.

It can help you to tone the uterus which will make the contractions more effective. It can end up the pain faster when the contraction is effective.

13. Focus On Your Breath During Prodromal Labor 

Doing meditation During Prodromal Labor

You can also treat prodromal labor like active labor pain. Find a breathing technique that works best for you. It will help you to make it through those painful contractions.

The plus side of Prodromal construction is that you can easily figure out which breathing method is best for you before entering active labor.

When You Should Contact Your Doctor Or Midwife?

Doctor checks the Pregnant women BP

If you think you are experiencing Prodromal labor contractions, then it is always advisable to talk to your doctor or midwife as it will be a wise decision to keep them informed about your situation.

There is nothing to worry about or stress about but letting them know about your situation will make you feel better.

It is best to get in touch with them as there are quite similar symptoms between Prodromal labor and active labor.

The Bottom Line For Prodromal Labor

It is important for you to know whether the contractions are Prodromal labor or active labor as this will guide you when you need to go and visit the doctor.

It is completely fine to give your doctor or midwife a call and get your questions answered to know about the real situation.

Consider Prodromal labor contractions as your practice labor and it comes weeks or months before the actual delivery. So focus, relax and take a deep breath.

Also, rest and keep yourself hydrated. Ask your partner to give you some massage and pamper you.


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  1. What is prodromal labor?

    Prodromal labor is false labor that occurs before the active labor pain. But it doesn't progress toward the delivery. The prodromal labor is active labor again the contraction and it is more than the Braxton Hicks contractions. Prodromal labor can help to encourage the baby into a suitable birthing position. It can prepare muscle, pelvis, and ligaments for active labor pain.

  2. How long does prodromal labor last?

    The prodromal labor can last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. In some cases, prodromal labor pain is come and go. The mother who is expecting their second, third or that later baby than they, may experience prodromal labor at the night and this pain fade on the next morning. It also depends on the person to person and the position of the baby.

  3. How to progress prodromal labor?

    There is no exact way to progress the prodromal labor pain. Because the prodromal contractions are cause own their own and go away. It also not progress the labor pain. It just occurs last month of the pregnancy, but it doesn't mean that prodromal can increase the active labor pain.

  4. How to speed up prodromal labor?

    You can speed up the prodromal labor by chiropractic, acupuncture, the miles circuit, and eating some herbs. But before consuming any herbs consult with your midwife or doctor. Prodromal labor is very discouraging, but don't lose your hope.

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