Prodromal Labor

I know! There are so many different words added before the word labor. Yup! These words are used to describe the different phases of this oftentimes confusing and usually long process! 

The typical three different phases of labor—early labor, active labor and transition. But in some cases, often for first time labors, there is a fourth phase: prodromal labor. This doesn’t happen often, but if it does occur — can cause confusion.

Typically prodromal labor happens when a mom has contractions for a few hours and then it stops. It can be really intense, the contractions can be close together and you may be convinced that this is it……AND, its not 🙁

BUT…the good news is…it does mean that your body is preparing for labor and it will indeed surely start. Some women will only experience vague symptoms: loose stools, losing your mucous plug, or even have a strong nesting instinct. Other women will experience contractions early on, with their contractions coming regularly, but not progressing. 

Prodromal labor can come on at night, and fades by the next morning. As a result of the contractions, some women may experience some cervical changes, (softening of the cervix, changing from a posterior position to a more anterior position), but these changes won’t result in much cervical dilation.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but the prodromal phase can last anywhere from 24-72 hours, although in some cases it can come and go. 

If you experience this, let me know and I can help you!


My advice:

  • Ignore your labor until it is impossible to continue ignoring. This means that you should continue to do what you normally would do.
  • Eat well, keep yourself hydrated, use the restroom often, and focus on other things, besides the contractions.
  • Try getting some sleep or rest as you are going to need it.
  • Try to watch a funny or romantic movie to get your hormones going.
  • If it helps, use a hot pack on your lower back, or right about your pubic bone for a little bit. Rest and soak in a nice warm bath.

This may make you feel better: Women who experience prodromal labor for longer periods of time may find that once things start to move along, and labor starts, things move quite quickly! 

Please check out the Spinning Babies website. This is a great website for baby positioning and exercises that support the body during this time!

About the author

Viji Natarajan B.S., C.A.S.As a trained and Certified Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist and a Certified Yoga Teacher, I am committed to helping my clients understand themselves on a deeper level. These two ancient, time honored traditions help us to live healthier, happier and more balanced lives.

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