Prodromal labor is often overlooked as an important time period during the first stage of labor. Also referred to as the latent phase, the prodromal phase of labor is determined by the presence of contractions that may be steady, but do not increase in frequency or intensity.
Don't be discouraged
Sometimes, this phase is called “false labor”, which can be a discouragement to you if you are experiencing prodromal labor. Prodromal labor can feel very much like early labor. In fact, it may be hard for a you to determine exactly when you went from the prodromal phase of labor to the early phase.
Prodromal labor can sometimes last for several days. During that time, you'll be worried about whether or not you'll ever go into “real” labor. Your body is going through slow changes as it gets ready for labor and the birth of your baby. Some of these changes are barely noticeable, but rest assured that your body is doing real work.
If you are becoming discouraged, your doctor or midwife may be able give you clues as to how your body is making changes; You or your husband are also be able to check your cervix for dilation or effacement.
Read more about how to check your own cervix here. Confirmation of these changes will encourage you when you are experiencing a long prodromal labor.
The benefits of prodromal labor
The wonderful thing about a long prodromal labor is that it can shorten the active phase of labor. This is because your body has already done a considerable amount of work to dilate and efface your cervix, as well as move your baby down.
Midwives agree that they should take their on-call status seriously if you have been in prodromal labor. Your labor may go quickly, and you may not realize until well into labor that your baby will be here sooner than you thought.
How to cope
If you are experiencing this phase of labor, it's important that you listen to your body and follow it's lead, just as you should in active labor. Your body is doing an incredible amount of work internally. If you are feeling tired, you should rest as much as possible. If you feel like busying your hands, feel free to do some light activities.
If you are feeling the urge to nest, make sure you don't wear yourself out too much. Labor could approach at any moment, and you want to reserve your energy for that. If there is something that you feel you must organize, move, or lift, ask for help.
Keep yourself occupied by watching movies, doing puzzles, chatting with friends on the telephone, or journaling your experience.
Mental exhaustion and uncertaintly is completely normal. Take mental breaks often; Try relaxation techniques, relaxing baths, herbal teas, and calming music. Talk to other women who have gone through prodromal labor and can assure you that everything is going as it should and that your baby will be here soon.