Prodromal labor or false labor is the labor that starts and stops before a fully active labor starts. Calling it also labor is a poor description of this labor. Medical experts and doctors have concluded that it is not false as contractions are real, but they keep coming and going while the labor progresses.
You can think of prodromal labor as the real name for contraction pain and regularity during pregnancy. The only difference between active labor and prodromal labor is that contractions during prodromal labor start and stops while in active labor they don’t.
Prodromal labor contractions often come and go at the same time every day and at regular intervals. Many mothers get confused and end up getting in touch with the team of doctors and call them thinking that their labor has begun.
Prodromal labor is quite common and can even start days or weeks before actual labor. The doctors or healthcare providers will want the mothers to deliver normally which is about 40 weeks after pregnancy. You should not confuse prodromal labor as a sign of cesarean baby or induction.
Prodromal Labor Vs. Braxton Hicks
Many times this labor is confused with Braxton Hicks contractions. You should however know that both these are different things. The majority of pregnant women experience these contractions at some of the other stages during their pregnancy. Braxton hicks contractions are usually practiced contractions to prepare the body for labor.
Braxton hicks contractions may cause a comfortable and tight sensation in the body but these are not intense and regular. They rarely last for long durations and do not grow in intensity as well. Prodromal labor usually follows a regular pattern and the contractions can grow in intensity and vary from time to time.
Brixton’s hick contractions can sometimes be eased by drinking water, relaxing, or eating the right food. But doing such activities would have no significant effect on prodromal contractions. The cervix can dilate and efface slowly during such labor. This is usually not seen in the case of Brixton hicks contractions.
Now that you know how these contractions are different from Hixton bricks contractions, let’s see how these are different from actual labor contractions.
Prodromal Labor Vs. Active Labor
Prodromal contractions usually take place for less than 5 minutes and then they stop for a longer period and then start again sometimes at regular intervals while once active labor starts, the contractions start becoming more and more frequent and they no longer start or stop.
You should know that the closer your contractions become together, the closer you are to give birth to your baby. Real labor contractions usually get stronger, longer, and closer together and they progress towards delivery without being slowed again or stoping.
Once the labor starts progressing in the right direction, this labor would not stop. This usually happens when the mother is over 4 cm dilated.
This is the main difference between prodromal labor contractions and actual contractions that gives birth to a baby.
Causes Of Prodromal Labor
Cannot say the exact causes of prodromal labor contractions, but there are several theories that estimate the causes. The medical community still hasn’t found any specific cause that leads to prodromal labor. Most researchers agree that prodromal contractions in the way in which the mother’s body prepares itself for active labor. There are several contributing factors that one must know.
- The baby’s position is one such factor. The mothers are more likely to face prodromal contractions when the developing fetus is in a breech position. The theory behind that comes in support is that uterus of the mother attempts to move the baby by regular contractions for a duration of time but then it stops because it does not work.
- Physical factors are a cause too. Uneven pelvis and uterine abnormality might also lead to having such contractions.
- Feeling afraid and anxious. Apprehensive kinds of emotions related to pregnancy or some other things in a mother’s life may also cause prodromal contractions or labor.
- History of other or previous pregnancies is a reason too. This might also be related to changes in the uterus after going through multiple pregnancies.
One must know that prodromal labor is not always a cause of concern and this does not indicate that the baby is in some sort of distress. If you still have some concerns regarding your baby’s health due to regular contractions, you can contact your healthcare provider to get some relief.
Prodromal labor can occur at any stage or any time of pregnancy usually within the last month. It does not always mean that active labor is near or going to take place in a week or so. Labor and birth are quite unpredictable, so considering prodromal labor as a way to predict pregnancy time is not a good idea.
You should call the doctor or not depends upon your situation. If your pregnancy is a low-risk pregnancy, you are not likely to contact your doctor even if you are having prodromal pain.
It might be difficult to make out if the contractions you are facing are a sign of prodromal labor or active labor. You must reach out to your doctors if you have any queries and concern that needs immediate attention.
How To Manage Labor?
If you are very close to the given date of giving birth to your child, you have to try and stay more active during contractions. Being active means:
- Dancing slightly.
- Walking around
- Using a birthing ball
- staying upright
You can rest between periods when the contractions are ceased or you no longer feel them. Just remember that you have to stay hydrated and nourished in order to keep your energy levels up. You can also use this time to practice some coping mechanisms for getting through the contractions and lessen the pain. Long breathing and relaxation techniques can also be immensely useful at this stage.
The Bottom Line
Although prodromal labor can be really frustrating for new mothers, you have to keep in mind that it is your body’s way to prepare itself for the main event. These contractions help mothers to get hints of the actual labor and thus ease their pain.
Prodromal labor is very common in the last few weeks of pregnancy so there is nothing you need to be worried about. If you still have something worrisome in mind, you have to contact your doctors to get relief and answers to your doubts.