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Prodromal Labor

Posted Sep 21 2009 10:05pm
I recently received a comment on an old post about a woman being 38 weeks gestation. She's been having intermittent contractions for the past few days, and is very tired. Her cervix is still only about 1cm/75%/-2 station. She is exhausted and doesn't know what to do.

Well, here is my educated advice to you:

You sound like you are in prodromal labor. This is where you have contractions that are irregular, sometimes very regular, and they are painful. But yet, dilation and effacement is not changing in a positive direction and with great regularity. It is downright exhausting and frustrating! It's hard to sleep, hard to get comfortable, and you just don't know if you can do it anymore.

This will not go on forever, I promise you!

What you can do:

---Drink lots and lots of water, juice and decaf tea. You need to keep hydrated. This is especially so if you have an "irritable uterus". This is when you get cramping that comes and goes, and is short in duration for each cramp. Basically, your uterus is dehydrated and tired. When I say drink "lots of water" - I mean just that! Drink up to/or more than a gallon of fluid per day -- more if you live in a hot area of the country!

---Ask your provider about medication you can take at home. (**Disclaimer!** NOT MEDICAL ADVICE!) Ask about Benadryl or Ambien.

---Ask your provider about an overnight admission to the hospital for IV fluid hydration and/or morphine rest. Morphine rest is something we do commonly for prodromal labor on L&D. We give you a shot of morphine and phenergan in your buttock/hip, and it either 1) knocks out the contractions to let you sleep and labor stops, or 2) allows you to rest for a few hours and you wake up dilated more and in active labor.

---Submerge yourself in a big tub of warm water. This helps take the pain and pressure off of those sore spots during pregnancy (back, hips, belly, legs). To be most effective, you need to have access to a deep tub or a hot tub. You want to be able to totally submerge your belly into the water.

---Get your partner to give you a massage. Lavender oil/lotion helps with relaxation, and you might find that this helps you. Even if it's just a little bit of help, it's better than nothing, right? Here is a list of relaxation oils -- some that are excellent: lavender, tea tree, sandalwood, eucalyptus.

Certain essential oils are to beavoided during pregnancyand include:

  • Basil oil
  • Birch oil
  • Cedar oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Clove bud oil
  • Cypress oil (avoid in the first two trimesters)
  • Fennel oil
  • Hyssop oil
  • Jasmine oil
  • Juniper oil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Myrrh oil
  • Parsley oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Sage oil
Remember: prodromal labor will not go on forever. The end is in sight. Believe in your body and your ability to birth your baby. YOU CAN DO THIS!
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