Surviving Prodromal Labor

This post is part of an editorial series, “The Stork Stories,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog and Texas Health. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you prepare for baby’s arrival.

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It was January, and I was 39 weeks pregnant with my second kid. I started losing my mucus plug three weeks prior, and just found out I was three centimeters dilated. Baby was head down, almost engaged, and we were all prepared for her early arrival. I went to grab dinner with a few friends that night. It would have been a lovely evening had I not been contracting throughout the entire meal. After finally calling it a night, I drove home clinching my legs together, sobbing, and praying that I would make it home and not deliver my baby in the car by myself.

Despite the intensity of the contractions, I didn’t go into real labor for three more weeks.

It’s possible you’ve actually experienced this phenomenon yourself but didn’t know what to call it. Meet prodromal labor, the absolute worst form of torture nature has to offer.

friendsSome might confuse prodromal labor with early labor or false labor. In fact, it is neither. It is not false labor because it does produce cervical change. It is not early labor because it does not progress to active labor or the delivery of a baby. Prodromal labor is labor that is consistent, painful, creates cervical change, gets your hopes up, and then totally and completely stops. See? Worst form of torture.

My experience with prodromal labor was consistent contractions (painful, not Braxton Hicks), 3-7 minutes apart for several hours — exactly what every birthing book tells you is considered “go time.” Every time I started to think this was it, the contractions would completely fizzle out. With my first pregnancy it happened one night, seven days before my son was born. The second time it happened felt like every other day for a solid month. While it’s possible this is simply part of my labor process, I believe my prodromal labor was due to mal-positioned babies.

Here are my tips for dealing with this very unfortunate event:

  1. Take it easy and rest (great advice, right?). I say that because every time I started having consistent contractions I hopped on my birthing ball, did squats, or walked my ‘hood like a mad woman. I wore myself slap out. Labor is hard work, and you need to conserve your energy for the real deal. Instead of jumping jacks, draw a warm bath and soak a bit with a good book and some candles or essential oils in the diffuser.
  2. After first consulting your doctor or midwife, try slowly drinking a small glass of wine (as in three or less ounces). This will help your body relax, which will tell you if you’re in early labor or not.
  3. If you think your baby might be mal-positioned, try forward-leaning inversions. This can help get your baby in an optimal birthing position by giving him or her some space in an otherwise cramped womb.
  4. Another favorite exercise of mine was Rebozo Sifting. Not only does it give your baby an opportunity to reposition, but it also gives you a moment of relief from the weight of your ever-growing womb. It also forces your significant other to shoulder the burden for a spell — and who could turn that down?

IMG_2419Prodromal labor is insanely exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Just remember, slow and steady is the name of the game. If it’s early labor, it will progress no matter what you do. If it’s not, it will fizzle out no matter what you do. You will know when your labor is going to completion because, guess what, it’ll keep going until you have a baby. Until then, try the tips above and relax. Your baby can’t stay in there forever. Despite what he or she might think.

Have you experienced prodromal labor? How did you deal with it?

For more information on fetal positioning visit

Stork Stories photo credit:

Cate is a transplant from Alabama and an alum of the greatest school in the SEC (Roll Tide). She married her college sweetheart, Rob, in the summer of 2010 and together they have two adorable Texans, Elijah (2012) and Nora (2015). When she’s not momming or mom-bossing, Cate enjoys snuggling the cutest dachshund on the planet, rapping the Hamilton soundtrack, and binging old episodes of The Office. Cate has proudly called Fort Worth home since 2011 and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.


  1. Oh my goodness, YES. Prodromal labour! I did not even know it had a name at the time. I lost my mucus plug on a Sunday around noon and within two hours, was contracting regularly. Instead of going to the state fair, we changed our plan and I got a pedicure in town instead, just in case. The contractions kept coming but petered out sometime after midnight. I went to work because I felt fine and then the contractions started up that evening. Again they stopped sometime in the middle of the night. The same pattern continued throughout the next day and evening. It wasn’t until the following afternoon when the contractions returned that I was truly in labour but still did not know it. It took another 16 hours (and me trying to go to work again–it is HARD to drive a standard in active labour!) before we went to hospital…and within 4 hours of stepping through the doors, we had our precious Baby #2.

    • Do you feel like your labor went faster once it got out of the prodromal phase and into early labor? I feel like mine did, so I’m interested to know if you agree. I also felt like active labor was easier my second time around and after weeks of prodromal. But maybe I was just overly ready to have her that I was more apt to deal with the pain.

  2. I have never heard of this before, but I’m pretty sure it’s what I experienced with my first born. Nearly every night for almost a month before he was born. The night I was actually in labor I didn’t even know until my water broke…it was just like so many nights before. And he was positioned wronged….interesting.

    • I had never heard of it either, Deidre, until my second time through. I finally googled off and on labor and found some great information on the Spinning Babies website. My experience fit the bill perfectly.

  3. I’m going through this now. 40 1/2 weeks pregnant with who knows how many nights of torture. I won’t even know when to call my midwife, I have contractions all the time that go nowhere. I feel like baby will never come. This is definitely the worst torture. I have been told he is in a good position, but how can that be if I am never in active labor?! My other kids were born at 39 weeks. Labor started and resulted in a baby every time. This is so hard.

    • God bless you, Kate! I feel confident you will know when to call the midwife (love that show). Praying for some relief — and a baby — for you SOON!


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