Prodromal Labour

AKA: False labour – and I’m going to tell you right now, there is nothing false about it!

So many pregnant people that I talk to are confused in the last days, or sometimes up to a week, before their labour becomes active.

I’ve been having contractions, but only at night.
I’m feeling contractions, but they’re not getting stronger or longer.

I’m having contractions for a little while, then they go away.

It can be super frustrating, tiring and draining of both mental and physical energy. All this discomfort and lack of sleep, and for what?!

It’s certainly not for nothing.

Your body is working, preparing, and opening. Your baby is getting into a good position. Your body is working hard.

Simply remembering this is half the battle to managing prodromal labour. The knowledge that you are so close to your baby, your body is making it happen, and that it’s working so that your labour is smoother – this is the most important thing to keep close in your mind if you find yourself experiencing prodromal labour.

To be specific – what is it?

◇⠀Contractions that occur in the hours, days or weeks before the birth
◇⠀Contractions are more painful than Braxton Hicks, but aren’t as painful as active labour
◇⠀Contractions do not progress into active labour
◇⠀Contractions can be sporadic, or can be regular (every 5-10 mins) and then fade away

So, what can you do to get through it?

◇ Rest as much as you can. If you can sleep through the contractions, try to do so. ⠀If you can’t, try finding a comfortable position to read or watch some netflix.
◇⠀If you don’t want to rest, try distraction. I recommend my clients have an “early labour project” – something to occupy themselves in the early stages of labour. Now is a great time to use one of them.
◇⠀Water. A long hot shower, a soak in the bath, a swim, even just a drink!

And perhaps most importantly:

Keep your head in the game. You’ve likely done a lot of mental preparation for your birth, readying yourself to meet the challenge of labour. It is REALLY easy for this to all slip away during prodromal labour. Tiredness, frustration, confusion – just being at the end of your pregnancy! – all these emotions can break the carefully built calm and confidence in your head. Don’t let it. You’ve got this. Remember: this is the prologue to your birth story.

Gorgeous photo (the waiting, the hoping!) by Erin Heuser Photographer.

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