Tuesday, 02 October 2012
When I was about 38 weeks pregnant with my son Jaime, I started getting contractions. They would come on at night, stronger and more painful than Braxton Hicks contractions, and sometimes grow closer together. Every night, my mother (who I was staying with) would watch me with concern and suggest I call Labor and Delivery. We had quite a drive to get to the hospital, and she'd had quick labors. She was scared I'd deliver the baby in the car on the way. So 3 times we went to the hospital, where the contractions would show up on the monitor only to slow down and disappear. My cervix stayed closed.
This went on for almost 2 weeks before my water broke. It was exhausting! Physically it was tiring to spend so much time dealing with the pain of contractions that ultimately led no where. Psychologically it was discouraging to keep feeling "this might be it!" only to have the contractions fizzle out. I'd learned all about the stages of labor and the progress your body is "supposed" to make. I felt like my body just didn't work right or didn't know how to get labor started. I felt broken and discouraged.
I wish I had known then about Prodromal Labor. Prodromal Labor is when the early stage of labor drags on. It's not "false labor" and it's not just Braxton Hicks. Contractions are painful and real, but do not increase in intensity or are not constant. They may start at night and stop in the morning. It can last anywhere from 3 days to several weeks. And it is exhausting! It can keep a woman from getting good rest and tire your body out for active labor. And it can make you feel like a failure - all that work feels like it's for nothing.
Now I'm 38 weeks pregnant with my second child. I'd hoped to avoid Prodromal Labor this time around, but it seems that's just how my body likes to do things! This time when painful contractions started (and they are more intense with a second baby!) I promised myself I'd ignore them. No timing them, no focusing on them, no trying to get labor started. I'd take a warm bath, and while that wouldn't stop the contractions, it helps to calm you before bed. It didn't work. I tried examining any psychological barriers I might have to letting labor get started. Nope, I'm ready for her to come! I tried to see if her position was keeping her from progressing, but my midwife said she's in perfect position and engaged for labor. People around me keep saying "wow, maybe tonight!" My husband suggests we call the midwife several times a day. But it just drags on.
So now I wait. And it's not a fun wait. It's an exhausting wait, with sometimes 30+ painful, low contractions a day, some of them lasting a minute long and sometimes going all night so I can barely sleep. It's been 3 days and I'm tired, grumpy, achy, and ready for active labor to start. But I know it could take another week or more. This time around I know what to expect, and that makes it a little better. But it doesn't make it much EASIER!
Have you ever experienced Prodromal Labor? How long did it last? Was there anything you found helpful to cope?