a dummies guide to prodromal labor


“Has Holly had the baby yet?”

In a word, “NO!”

If Holly were to tell you herself it might be something like, No, damn it! Does it LOOK like I had the baby yet?!” She would likely be stabbing you in the face with daggers shooting from her eyes as she says it too. But who could blame her, really?  She has been dealing with strong, painful contractions every 3 to 9 minutes apart since LAST Sunday. The results of this labor is she is now 3 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced but at 38 weeks and 4 days, her midwife and the hospital where she is delivering will not consider induction as they are following the ACOG and AAP recommendations of no elective inductions or c-sections before 39 weeks. So she must labor on still.

I know, I know….you or your Aunt Martha or a friend of friend knows someone who was induced at 35, 36, 37, 38 weeks and everything was JUST FINE. I delivered three of my babies at 37 weeks, 36 weeks and 38 weeks and everything was just fine for them too…well except for the one who had hyperbilirubinemia and although treated at home with a bili-blanket did have to have daily lab draws for a week…oh and the one who had temperature instability issues for the first day of life and feeding difficulty issues for the first week which led to her mommy having bilateral mastitis that was so painful I couldn’t even pick up the 7+ pound baby for several days…yeah, except for those everything was just fine! Holly delivered Hazel at 38 weeks and her baby girl was 8lbs 4oz of awesome, wonderful-ness. Most cases, yes, everything is just fine. Still the times are a-changing. In the maternal-child field of practice we are learning so much more about the consequences of allowing late preterm or near term babies to be induced and delivered and so most practitioners are re-thinking this and following the recommended guidelines because it is a good practice and many insurance companies will not pay them if they don’t. It’s all good.

Still it doesn’t help Holly and her laboring for a little over a week now.

I know everyone wants to help…encourage…share…OVER-share all because they care but really, trust me, it ain’t helping. Sure she smiles and thanks you but then she turns to me and vents all kinds of crazy end-of-pregnancy hormones on me about the unsolicited advice, support, stories, remedies that are offered to her. So as a public service to everyone…and so she’ll stop dousing me with that evil, raging hormone rage that is triggered by all of the well-meaning encouragement, support, advice and stories I want to pass on a guide for everyone who is sharing the same air space with a 9+ months pregnant woman who has been contracting every 3-9 minutes for the last ten days:

1. Don’t ask her if she has tried:

  • castor oil
  • blue cohosh or black cohosh
  • raspberry leaf tea
  • spicy food
  • the labor-inducing salad…soup…pizza…mocktail served at some local restaurant
  • walking
  • having sex
  • bouncing on a stability ball
  • dancing
  • anything else that has “worked for” you…your cousin’s friend of a friend…Aunt Martha…the lady down the street…whomever!

2. Don’t lecture the poor, exhausted woman that the baby will come when the baby is ready.

3. Don’t remind her that it isn’t even her due date yet…especially when she has been laboring for the last ten days and the Estimated Date of Delivery is not for another ten days. Would you like to be contracting every 3-9 minutes for another ten days? I know I wouldn’t.

4. Bring over a meal…lunch…dinner so she can maybe try to rest more in between those contractions.

5. Offer to go for a walk with her or take her rambunctious 3 year old for a walk to the playground so she can get a break from her exhausted, crabby, laboring mommy.

6. Give her a nice foot massage and pedicure and don’t judge her if her legs aren’t shaved.

7. Bring over a fun movie and some light snacks and share a good laugh with her while she bounces on that stability ball of hers.

8. Keep your laboring war stories…your kid’s teacher’s friend…the lady who works behind the counter at the local drugstore…your Aunt Martha’s to yourself. You can share them AFTER she has the baby.

9. When you call, text, Facebook, communicate with her don’t make your first question be something along the lines, “Have you had the baby yet?”… “Has your water broke?”…”Have you lost your mucous plug?”… Do ask her how she is feeling…Tell her you are thinking about her.

10. Most of all, tread lightly, be sensitive, imagine how you would feel if you were contracting every 3-9 minutes for the last ten days…or try to remember how you DID feel if you did back in the day…or how Aunt Martha felt back in the day.

This is a public service message brought to you by the mother of the prodromal laboring, pregnancy hormone-raging woman who has indeed been contracting every 3-9 minutes for the last ten days.

You are welcome!