self-care

Surviving Prodromal Labor

Start. Stop. Start. Stop.

Contractions come consistently for 4 hours. Then nothing. You fall into a sleepy abyss of nothingness for a few hours before the contractions start up again. And again, they stop.

The next morning you have random and mild contractions. There's no pattern, no consistency, just annoying pain that lasts all day long. Sometime in the mid afternoon you nap and they go away.

Night time falls, the moon rises... they're back. Coming every 3 minutes. Your back and hips ache beyond belief. You're convinced this is it.

You call your doula. She comes to your home to support you but hours later, the contractions slow and eventually stop.

This is prodromal labor. And it is, (pardon my French), a total mind fuck. 

Some people call prodromal "false labor" but the reality is, there's nothing false about it. The contractions are real. What you're feeling is real. The mind games are real. Calling it false labor discounts what the laboring woman is feeling and can make her feel as if her body is broken or unable to dilate. This is simply not the case. 

The biggest challenge with prodromal labor is that while the contractions are real, they typically aren't strong enough or consistent enough to dilate your cervix, thus prolonging your labor and wearing you out in the process... physically, mentally and emotionally.

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So how do you avoid wearing yourself out?

Surviving prodromal labor requires a lot of support, so before you reach the end of your pregnancy, I recommend having a system in place in the event this is a part of your birth journey. 

Call Your Doula

This is why you hired her. She will provide emotional support to help you stay present and encouraged. Her expertise will help you determine if this is prodromal or early labor. She'll be able to give you tips on various positions or comfort measures that can help you stay relaxed. Don't be afraid to call her or ask for help. She is always there for you.

Re-Program Your Brain

So much of the labor game is mental. As you can imagine, days or weeks of start and stop contractions would discourage anyone. Build yourself up and get your mind right with affirmations. Print some out and put them all over your house, in every room. Repeat them out loud to reinforce their meaning and strength. 

Further, reframe your thoughts around prodromal labor by looking at it as a warm up or a rehearsal for the big day. Use this time to practice your breathing, relaxation and comfort measure techniques that you learned in childbirth class. Get your partner involved with some hands-on support to provide physical relief. 

Rest When You Can

Don't hate me. I know rest is what you crave and I know it can be hard to come by with prodromal labor. Find respite in the breaks and sleep when your body allows you to. If you can't sleep, keep the nighttime restful with gentle yoga, warm baths, meditation or something equally relaxing. Can't find a comfortable position? Check out Spinning Babies for supportive positions that encourage relaxation and more optimal positioning of your baby. 

Another option for rest is called "therapeutic rest." If your prodromal labor has prevented you from getting quality sleep for days or weeks, talk to your care provider about this option. Therapeutic rest involves medication such as Ambien or Nubain to relax your body and mind to get you to sleep. Often times therapeutic rest is the catalyst for kick starting your labor. 

Nourish Yourself

It's easy to be distracted by this annoying labor pattern, not to mention the discomfort or exhaustion may limit your appetite. But nutrition is just as important now as it is in active labor. Eat smaller, high protein meals to keep you fuller longer or try hydrating soups that will nourish your tired soul as well as your hard-working body. Stay hydrated with coconut water, fresh juice, electrolyte drinks or tea. 

Dig deeper into self-care and go get a relaxing massage or a pedicure. Not only do these promote relaxation, but certain acupressure points might move labor along. 

Be Gentle With Yourself

Ignore your contractions for a long as you can. Alternate rest and activity. Do normal things for as long as you feel comfortable and when your energy is tapped out, give yourself space to rest. Remember, your body is warming up and working hard, so give yourself grace and compassion. Know that you will not be pregnant forever and that in time this prodromal labor pattern will shift and your baby will come. 

Prodromal labor can be incredibly challenging and disheartening. But with the right frame of mind and the right support, you will get through it. Did you experience prodromal labor? Share about your experience below and tips on what worked!

In The Spotlight: Lauren Deliberato

Hello again! We are excited to shine this month's spotlight on Lauren Deliberato, mama, therapist and all-around amazing human! We met Lauren in 2016 over coffee in an effort to network and learn more about the incredible therapeutic she provides. It was at that first coffee date that we knew we wanted her to be involved in our own efforts to push the boundaries of what unconditional postpartum support looked like for new parents. It is no secret that postpartum support in our society is lacking and it is our desire to provide our community with resources, hands-on guidance, and non-judgmental information & support throughout the postpartum years. For us, Lauren was the perfect person to partner with in these efforts. 

Lauren has an incredible capacity to make you feel safe and heard. Her understanding and compassion for the many challenges motherhood brings makes her an ideal therapist to lead our bi-monthly Postpartum Support Circle, Balance After Baby

In today's feature, we asked Lauren to give us a glimpse into her own life and her own journey as a mother, as well as share some of her passion for self-care and mental health. 

Mindfulness in Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be one of the most overwhelming seasons of life. Your attention is pulled in so many different directions with so many decisions to make: Where should I give birth? What do I want to include in my birth plan? Should I hire a doula? What color do I want to paint the nursery? Where should we register? 

That, plus the world around you doesn't stop just because you're growing a baby. There's still your job to think about, your family, and your social commitments. Trying to keep up with a busy schedule while coming to grips with the realities of being a parent can send anyone spinning. The constant demands of life can be a perfect storm for stress and anxiety. 

Tell me you can relate.

If I just described your life, finding a way to introduce mindfulness & balance into your pregnancy is a MUST. Regular mindfulness practices will provide you with tools to keep a positive outlook and a level head through the challenges of pregnancy and parenting.

What is mindfulness you ask?

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Growing that “baby belly” can be a wonderful, joyous experience, but it is often mixed with challenges for the body and mind. Developing a consistent yoga practice during pregnancy is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body & your baby in preparation for childbirth. By linking yoga postures with breath as well as the use of guided meditation; yoga during pregnancy can help bring awareness to the mind, body, & spirit, as well as help connect you to the spirit of your baby.

Prenatal Yoga is specifically designed to help alleviate the most common pregnancy ailments. The postures chosen by an experienced, educated teacher will assist in adapting to the many emotional & physical changes that occur during pregnancy. Specific postures help strengthen & tone the uterus and pelvic floor, improve circulation in the legs & pelvic area, aid in digestion, exercise the spine, and increase overall comfort during pregnancy. Yoga can also help alleviate other discomforts such as low back pain, sciatica, swelling, varicose veins, and nausea.

An oft forgotten aspect of yoga is the social one, specifically in regards to prenatal yoga. It's not uncommon to build a strong community within these classes as you bond over heart burn, swollen feet, and waiting for the day your babies arrive. Prenatal Yoga can be a safe haven for many parents-to-be as they connect with others who truly understand the challenges they face in pregnancy. Many moms and moms-to-be find their tribe in yoga classes and create lasting friendships for years to come!

Self-Care Made Easy

In a culture that glorifies stress it can be a challenge to slow down. Too often we equate being busy and exhausted with being productive and along the way, we’ve lost the art of taking care of ourselves. When it comes to self-care too many people see it as just another thing to cross off their ever-growing to-do list. So how can you prioritize yourself when society encourages you to glorify busy and pushes you to your limits?