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How long will prodromal labor last?

Pregnancy can be an exciting yet scary experience in the first pregnancy. It is easy to get panicked when a first-time pregnant mother feels as if they are about to give birth when they start to feel contraction and some degree of pain. In most cases, these pregnant mothers think they are going into labour and often ask a doctor if they are about to deliver a pregnancy. Unfortunately, not all forms of contractions felt by these future mothers are to be considered a definite sign they are about to deliver their baby. This can be a sign of prodromal labor.

Prodromal labor is defined as labor that starts and stops before a full active labor. It is part of the labor but does not contribute to progressions of delivering the baby. Prodromal labor contractions often come and go at the same time each day or at regular intervals. This type of labor is extremely common as it starts days, weeks or months before an active labor begins. This makes prodromal labor be confused as signs of labor have begun even for experienced mothers, causing them to be worried if they are actually about to deliver when the fact is not yet.

Prodromal labor serves as contractions to prepare for delivery. Such contractions may help the baby inside the womb to change into a birthing position by preparing the muscles, ligaments and pelvis for an active labor. There are no exact causes for prodromal labor to happen but is theorised factors such as position of the baby in breech position, uterine abnormality, uneven pelvis, swayed by emotions of anxiety and changes to the uterus after multiple pregnancies, may have been contributed to prodromal labor. Prodromal labor itself is not usually a sign of concern or sign showing a baby is in distress but to seek healthcare provider’s advice certainly is not a wrong thing whenever there is such concern.

Since prodromal labor can be confused with the active labor contractions, knowing the differences between the two can greatly help a pregnant woman to understand if they need to get to the hospital immediately or to just rest at home. Prodromal labor contractions usually occur less than every 5 minutes and may halt for a long time. This in contrast with active labor contractions as contractions will be more frequent with no start and stop motion. Prodromal labor does not increase in intensity and frequency while active labor contractions often get longer, stronger and closer together.

Prodromal labor or active labor may not be easy to tell apart only from the contraction itself. Typically, pelvic exam is performed by a healthcare provider to seek for cervix dilation which signifies either the person is going into either type of labor. A labor is said to progress once the mother’s cervix dilated more than 4 centimetres and at this point, labor would not stop until the mother delivers the baby.

Since prodromal labor contractions may potentially turn into active labor sooner, it is best to conserve energy while waiting for the actual event. There are things a mother can do to help ease their mind from being bothered by such contractions, this includes taking a warm shower, getting a good night sleep, keeping themselves hydrated by drinking water and or sports drink and calming themselves by doing relaxing activities such as listening to music or meditating. Never do exhausting tasks such as cleaning or exercising when prodromal labor happens, instead, do light activities such as packing bags for the hospital or taking short slow walks. Any concerns regarding pregnancy and labor issues should always be asked to healthcare providers and there is no shame or guilt for asking help

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