We've heard of Braxton Hicks, right? The belly tightening that makes you stop in your tracks, not because it's painful, but because it's such a strange sensation! Your belly tightens up and can get as hard as a basketball. These "contractions" aren't labor - they won't contribute to your dilation or your effacement. Usually, eating or drinking, moving positions, going for a walk, or just waiting it out will make them go away. They also never get longer, consistent or any more intense. It could be your body preparing for the sensation of real labor, but having Braxton Hicks isn't a cue that baby is any closer to being born.
Prodromal labor, on the other hand, IS real labor. It can sometimes be referred to as "false labor" but that's actually pretty incorrect. It's not false, it is real. Those contractions are helping dilation and effacement, although very little, especially compared to active labor. But, prodromal labor won't result in baby. It can happen days before active labor or weeks before. Usually, these contractions have some sort of pattern, as in when they happen - ie: middle of the night or first thing in the morning. Regardless of whether you've been through the throws of labor or not before, these contractions could make you think the real thing is happening. They start off like active labor, the contractions are consistent, the intensity increases and then - it fizzles. Sometimes a cervical check at the doctor will show minimal dilation, if any. Keeping track of any type of contraction, usually with an app, is a good idea. If it ends up being prodromal labor there might be a type of pattern you'll see each time AND if it is active labor, these records are a good thing to have so you can see how you're progressing!
So, what do you do if you experience prodromal labor? Well - you're having actual contractions, you're in labor (even if it's not active labor), so act like it! Use this time to rest, take long showers, drink red raspberry tea leaf, do a round or two of the miles circuit. Anything that can bring you peace and comfort, that is what you do during any labor. If prodromal labor is something you've been experiencing, use this time to focus especially on relaxing your mind. This kind of labor can become a mind game, psyching you out each time! You may want to reach out to your midwife or OB, letting them know what you're feeling. Calling your doula is another great option, keeping them in the loop and they'll hopefully be able to help you figure out some comfort measures. The bonus to prodromal labor though? Even if it's a couple weeks before active labor, it IS eminent that babe will make their arrival very soon!
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