Sweet Things 4 Life
Sharing our journey toward a more natural, simple, healthful lifestyle.
In my recent birth story post I mentioned I experienced prodromal labor leading up to my actual labor and delivery. I felt crazy! The last four weeks before I delivered were mental torture! I didn't have a name for what I was experiencing at first, but with a little research I learned that I wasn't going crazy, other women have experienced this as well. Hopefully my experience will help others from feeling the disappointment and mental anguish I felt not knowing what I was going through.
At my 37 week appointment I was experiencing severe sciatic pain. This was brought on by the baby laying sunny side up, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. This is not optimal position for delivery, the baby needed to be turned face down. For the next few days I spent a lot of time “spinning” the baby, getting into positions that would dislodge the baby from my pelvis enough to allow her to settle into a better position. This is about the same time the night labor started.
At about the 37th week, every night around 10 or 11 p.m, when I’d lay down to sleep I’d have labor symptoms - contractions, cervix dilating and erratic baby movements. This would go on for hours, sometimes 4 or 5 on some nights, and lasted for a little over three weeks. It was maddening. The contractions were just strong enough to be uncomfortable and dilate me slightly, but would never progress. I tried different positions to help alleviate the discomfort but ultimately I just had to wait until they stopped. I thought I was crazy. Each night I would think, “Tonight is the night I’ll meet my baby!” only to be disappointed when the contractions would end.
As we approached our due date I felt more and more crazy, until my mom did a little research. She stumbled upon the term prodromal labor. I had heard this before in our natural childbirth class, but it was explained a little differently. In our class we discussed how prodromal labor is very irregular and might never fit the patterns we commonly think of with labor. For instance contractions might remain sporadic, may not progress the same and could take longer. Well, my mom found more information about this type of labor: it usually happens at the same time each day, contractions come on like real labor but don’t progress and fizzle out until the next day. The reason being that it helps to turn the baby into the optimal position, which as I just learned my baby was not in.
It made so much sense! I was so glad to hear I wasn’t the only woman experiencing this type of emotional torture. After that I started working with my body more, getting into belly hanging positions to help the baby move. It worked! At my 38 week appointment the baby was face down, although still putting pressure on my sciatic. The sciatic pain wouldn’t go away until later in the 38th week.
Although I continued to have these false labors, at least I knew my body was working toward something. I can’t say I handled the unknown well, however. I had tons of anxiety wondering whether today would be the day. It was especially difficult for me because I work from home and it was a slow few weeks so there wasn’t much to take my mind off my impending due date.
When my due date came and left I thought I would go mad! I thought, “How can I possibly be having all of these contractions and still not be in labor?” At 40 weeks and one day I went to my scheduled midwife appointment. Unfortunately, my emotions got the best of me and I broke down in the exam room. I felt crazy! I was showing all the symptoms of labor but no baby! The midwife asked if I wanted her to do a cervical exam, it was up to me because an exam won’t necessarily tell you when you’re going to go into labor. A cervical exam checks your dilation as well as the effacement of your cervix. I also asked about stripping the membranes, because I had read that could help launch the cascade of events that lead to labor.
I decided to have the exam done, just for my own sanity, knowing that it wouldn’t tell me one way or another, but at least I would know if I had been dilating. I’m so glad I got the exam, although it was uncomfortable, she said I was 4 centimeters dilated and my cervix was 90% effaced! The baby’s head was so low in the pelvis she was shocked I wasn’t already in labor and she said the bag of waters felt nice and firm, which is good for the baby. She stripped the membranes as well. Unfortunately, this did not send me into labor, I wouldn't go into labor for another week.
Looking back on this experience I think of how wise our bodies are. I've said that before, but it's so true. My baby wasn't in the right position for delivery so these nightly contractions helped to rotate her to a better position. Another thing to note, these are not like Braxton Hicks or practice contractions. Prodromal labor contractions are more than practice, they help to shift the baby over time instead of your body doing all of that work while you're in hard labor. They can also start dilating you.
My advice for any woman experiencing prodromal labor would be to keep yourself busy. Try making plans during the week with friends or find a good book to read. You'll want something to help keep your mind off the nightly contractions. And don't worry, you'll be able to tell the difference between prodromal labor and real labor!
Until next time,
Katie & Mike
We want to share our journey toward living a simpler, more natural and healthy lifestyle with you. As we navigate through an increasingly complex and tech-driven life, we'll share our goals, triumphs and struggles as we attempt to return to a simpler way of living.