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How to Progress Prodromal Labor ASAP

The following are helpful tips and tricks on how to progress prodromal labor, a frustrating and exhausting end of pregnancy phenomenon, as soon as possible. Of course, if you’re experiencing prodromal labor consult with your doctor or midwife to see what they recommend. They know you much better than a website can. 😉 Let’s get started!

Despite prodromal labor not being mentioned in the most common pregnancy books, you'll still hear it frequently being discussed everywhere. What gives?

Prodromal Labor Signs and Symptoms

Before we talk about getting into active labor, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what prodromal labor actually is.

By definition, the word prodromal means the symptoms one experiences before the onset of the actual condition. For example, if you’re about to get the flu, your prodromal symptoms may include a mild sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, etc. Prodomal labor contractions are typically more intense than Braxton hicks contractions. Some call prodromal labor false labor, but it definitely feels like real labor.

Prodromal labor symptoms include early signs of labor (ex: mild to strong contractions) that unfortunately do not progress into a normal labor pattern or significantly dilate the cervix… YET. Prodromal labor is your body’s way of slowly preparing for labor.

If you are experiencing the following signs of labor, you may be experiencing prodromal labor symptoms.

  • Timeable contractions
  • Contractions that are not getting longer, stronger and closer together OR
  • Contractions that are very, very slowly getting longer, stronger and closer together
  • Lack of significant cervical dilation
  • Contractions that continue despite the passing of days, rest, hydration, bath and/or a shower
  • Bloody show or losing the mucus plug
  • Difficulty sleeping because of contractions

I’ll say it again – strong, irregular, and noticeable contractions, that don’t get stronger, go away, or cause any cervical change is likely prodromal labor.

However, if you are experiencing strong, sometimes irregular, but noticeable and timeable contractions, maybe even five minutes apart, every evening for a week straight, but things fizzle at night and you eventually get to sleep, this is pre-labor.

If you are experiencing prodromal labor, a frustrating phenomenon of labor, hang in there. The following are tips and tricks that will progress labor as soon as possible. #pregnant #pregnancy #birth #labor #childbirth #thirdtrimester

How to Progress Prodromal Labor ASAP

If you are experiencing this frustrating aspect of labor, hang in there. The following are tips and tricks that will progress labor as soon as possible.

Priority #1

The best thing to do during this frustrating time is to go about your normal life as much as possible. Make rest priority number one, as well as staying well hydrated and fed. Don’t try to “be in labor”, but accept this state of being as part of the end of pregnancy. I promise, it will end!

How to Rest Even When You Can’t

I can hear your voice through the computer screen! My advice is to rest, but you’re yelling at me that you can’t. You can’t rest because you’re uncomfortable, the contractions won’t quit, and yet you can’t sleep.

I’ve not experienced prodromal labor personally, but I have attended births of women who were, for whatever reason, experiencing long, non-progressing labors. It’s a difficult scenario to be in, and it’s very, very real. When I suggest prioritizing rest, in no way am I minimizing your experience. Just hear me out.

During these long, non-progressing labors there comes a point where rest has to happen. For the sake of labor progress and mental sanity, rest must take place.

Here’s the secret – even if you think you can’t rest, you can. Trust me. Follow these tips to make shut eye happen.

  • Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder
  • Next, find a spot where you feel most comfortable – a bed, couch, squishy chair, etc.
  • Put phones on silent and/or out of the room
  • Turn off the lights
  • Settle in, and get as comfortable as you can. Pillows are your friend.
  • When the next contraction comes, resist the urge to get up, move, or change positions. Even if getting up is you’ve been doing for the last 12 hours, stay where you’re at.
  • Stay there for the next 3-5 contractions. If after that you still need to get up, then go for it. But you may find that this new resting position is actually working for you.
  • Close your eyes and doze off between contractions. Do this as long as possible.
  • No, this won’t be the best sleep you’ve ever head, but it may give you the chutzpah you need to keep going. Parents experiencing prodromal labor need all the chutzpah they can get.

At this point it is helpful for a birth doula to offer their expertise to the situation. A doula can support parents through this stress of prodromal labor.

As your virtual childbirth educator, I encourage you to spend your time and energy on resting, eating, and drinking more than trying to figure out how to progress prodromal labor. Assuming the basics are being prioritized, you may find success with the following to progress prodromal labor.

Increase Oxytocin

One of ways labor can be strengthened is by increasing the amount of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is a feel good, bonding hormone, that helps people feel calm and connected. It also is the hormone that causes contractions during labor. (Pitocin, the synthetic version of oxytocin, causes contractions but doesn’t come with the warm fuzzies.)

The following are activities or things to do that naturally increase oxytocin in the body, which may increase contractions, leading to early labor.

  • Dim lights
  • Enforce privacy
  • Warm shower or bath
  • Massage and physical touch
  • Laughing
  • Hair brushing
  • Petting a dog or other loved pet
  • Sensual kissing
  • Nipple stimulation
  • Sex, orgasm

The environment and activities that help make a baby are the same ones needed to give birth to a baby. Minus the pets.

(Stop yelling at me! Yes, I know the last thing you want to do is to have sex. But you see what I’m saying, right? 😉 )

Rotate Baby

In my experience, prodromal labor can sometimes be caused by a malpositioned baby. A stopping and starting again, but never fully going away, sort of labor could be your uterus’s way of trying to reposition a baby. Sometimes our bodies want baby to be in the best position before labor can progress.

Wondering how to get baby to be in a better position?  The answer is to move mom’s body.

Spinning Babies has a lot of good information about this, but The Miles Circuit, a similar idea, is easy to implement without wading through a pile of information. Sometimes when dealing with challenging labors, easy is what’s best and what actually gets done.

Therapeutic Rest

Because rest is priority number one but also extremely difficulty to achieve, some women, alongside their care providers, choose medicine to help cope through this frustrating time. The following are some of the medications women take to cope through prodromal labor.

  • Morphine
  • Demerol
  • Nubain
  • Phenergan
  • Ambien
  • Vistaril

For those that need to rest but can’t, but also don’t want to take the above IV pain meds (narcotics), sometimes find success with a warm bath and a glass of wine. Sometimes, if the uterus gets a break, when it starts back up things go a lot more straightforward.

How to Progress Prodromal Labor ASAP

To recap, the following are my best thoughts about how to progress prodromal labor ASAP.


Monday 1st of February 2021

Aloha Lindsey of Motherrising, I am an experienced childbirth educator and have a student in prodromal labor. So, I was reading your advice----but I am begging you to remove the reference to prisoners of war having it better than the woman in prodromal labor. To me, that is an insensitive comment. Labor is a normal state of being. eing a prisoner of war is not.

It falls in the category of all of us being sensitive to offensive and otherwise inappropriate language like the age-old "and then the baby 'pinks-up'". Nope, its skin lightens to the color of its race. And war references like "bombarded with contractions" or any of several other references to bombarding. Sincerely,

Janis Bell-Ryan Bush

Lindsey VanAlstyne

Thursday 11th of February 2021

Interesting, Janis! Thanks for commenting. I'll definitely keep that in mind. I'm glad you said something!