June 20, 2018
NOTHING is as fun as being 40 weeks pregnant, ready to have had that baby, like, yesterday, and it seems like there might be no end in sight (there is, though, we promise!)! Add on top of that confusing on-again, off-again contractions, and you might feel like you haven't had a relationship this complicated since dating in college.
Here's the deal: labor is rarely a cut and dry situation. There are so many variations of normal, it can be hard to keep up! And having contractions that start with a vengeance and stop abruptly toward the end of pregnancy is par for the course sometimes. For some women, it's just annoying tightening that you may have been feeling for a while: those Braxton Hicks. Other women may actually experience prodromal labor, which is just a fancy term for full-blown contractions that may actually be "doing something" to make you progress, but then go away before progressing to actually having a baby. Sounds frustrating right?
When you are close to your due date, or past it, it can be SO TEMPTING to try to get those contractions going even stronger. You might wake up in the middle of the night, unable to get comfy through each contraction, and find yourself up and about obsessively timing each contraction and willing them to get into a strong enough pattern to send you to the hospital. During the day, instead of going about normal life, and trying all those positions you just found on Google to try to get labor going (long walks followed by lunges anyone?)
If or when the contractions slow down and stop again, you may be exhausted. Physically, and emotionally too.
Here's the thing about early labor, and prodromal labor. It can sometimes be hard work! It can sometimes take a lot of mental and physical energy to get through. Keep in mind, though, that active labor, the part that progresses and brings that sweet baby into your arms finally, is also hard work. Hard work that you need to have conserved some energy for. Spending all of your mental and physical energy in early labor will mean there is that much less of a reserve for later on.
We often tell our birth doula clients: you can't chase labor down. You have to let it come to you, and sometimes it feels like such a tease! Your body and your baby are both smart: if your contractions slow down or stop completely after a bit, it just means that right now it needs rest and sleep more than it needs to have a baby right now. After all, sleep is more than just a nice thing. It actually can influence your body's ability to regulate the hormones that are necessary for labor to progress smoothly! So while it might be tempting to try anything and everything to keep your contractions going or to make them stronger, try this instead:
Have you experienced prodromal labor, or start and stop labor? What tips would you add? We would love to hear from you about your experience too!