What to Do for Prodromal Labor (False Labor)

Prodromal labor is also called false labor, pre-labor, or latent-labor. While it goes by many names, many who have experienced will call it one thing: a pain. Prodromal labor can be an emotional rollercoaster — it’s the little boy who cried wolf of labor. You see, prodromal labor is the precursor of labor when contractions start and stop but active labor hasn’t fully started. For many this means contractions can be intense and even somewhat regular but instead of progressing and getting closer together, they start and stop and start and stop on repeat. Often times these contractions will start at the same time each day (or night) and the birthing person will call their provider thinking this is the real deal only to find out it isn’t time just yet. This type of labor can last anywhere from hours to weeks and it’s just as much a mental game as it is managing the physical surges of the contractions. Here are three ways to manage both the physical and emotional ride that comes with prodromal labor:


1. Breathe, Relax, Nap

The breath can be an amazing coping mechanism during active labor and it’s equally beneficial during false labor. Diaphragmatic breathing helps our bodies by taking us from the fight or flight state to a more relaxed state. From a physical standpoint, it helps oxygen reach the muscles which can ease aches or pains. It most likely won’t stop the prodromal labor, but it may make it more manageable. I know it isn’t easy, but trying to relax (and maybe even taking a nap) can be helpful during prodromal labor. Unfortunately, we do not have a crystal ball to know if it will last 3 hours or 3 days, so getting any rest you can now will be helpful for when labor starts to progress.


2. Turn up the Music and Dance

Find music you love or find calming. Sing with it, move with it, dance with it, or do any combination of the three: you do you. It doesn’t matter what you listen to as long as it is calming for you. Maybe you love to move to the sounds of waves hitting the sand or maybe you love Frank Sinatra or Queen. Pick a playlist that either soothes your soul or amps you up and makes you feel empowered. It’s a fun little fact that moving and swaying your hips can help them open up and help labor progress if your little one is ready, so pick something you love, embrace the music, and dance to your heart.


3.  Move and Move Well

Sometimes prodromal labor happens because the baby isn’t in an optimal position and he or she is trying to wiggle their way into a better spot for labor. If you have been up all night with contractions every 10 minutes, you mentally and physically may not want to hit the gym and that’s okay! Respect where you are today and do what you can. One of the best resources available for babies that are not optimally positioned is Spinning Babies. Their daily exercises are simple but effective and include walking, forward-leaning inversions, maternal positioning, stretching, psoas release, hip openers, pelvic tilts, resting smart, and relaxing what is tight. These exercises don’t require a ton of energy, but they are a powerhouse for providing optimal position and ideally getting the baby in a position to let labor start on its own.


From one mama who navigated prodromal labor to another, you’ve got this. It may be hard, but your little one is almost here to snuggle with you and I promise you, it is well worth the wait.


Dr. Lauren Keller

Elemental Chiropractic


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