A lot of women get really frustrated by prodromal labor – or labor that seems to get regular, but “nothing” happens. It just seems to drag on and on. This often happens in the evenings in the last few weeks of pregnancy. I put nothing into quotations because those regular contractions are doing something – even if there's no baby. Still, it can be very tiring and frustrating.
I have never considered myself to have prodromal labor, but I do have lots of Braxton-hicks contractions (these are the so-called “practice contractions) in late pregnancy. This time around they have gotten strong and regular in the evenings for the past week and a half. Usually they putter out around bedtime, but last night they lasted well into the night. I got a bad cramp in my side which, combined with the Braxton-hicks contractions kept me up for about an hour last night.
It is during these contractions and especially last night, that I start to wonder “is this it?” Yes, even on my 5th baby I still wonder if “this is it.” I always comfort myself with the knowledge that when it's really time for my baby to be born I will know it without a shadow of a doubt.
But Braxton-hicks contractions, prodromal labor, etc. – whatever you want to call it can be exhausting… both physically and emotionally.
A Simple Technique
I've found myself using one Pink Kit technique over and over again during this time – asking myself “what do I want to do right now?” Last night as I felt those strong contractions I knew that I needed to make a choice. The Pink Kit teaches that you don't want to go into labor exhausted (physically or emotionally). Many women get really excited with all the anticipation of the last few weeks. Contractions may get regular then putter out, or they may be regular but mild for hours early in your birthing time. These times are exciting – but you don't want wear yourself out because once labor really gets going it takes a lot of focus and energy.
So back to “what do you want to do now?” For me, last night, I knew that if this was “it” I didn't want to be exhausted later on from not having had any sleep. That's a real possibility if a birthing is going to last all day. I knew that I wanted to go back to sleep if possible. I had a horrible cramp in my side which was bothering me far more than the Braxton-hicks. So I worked on stretching out and just breathing and focusing relaxation on that area. I also massaged the area a bit, which seemed to help somewhat. I kept my eyes closed and focused on sleeping. I needed to go to the bathroom a few times during this time period (joys of pregnancy!) so I got up and did that each time I felt like I needed to, but returned to bed.
I was tempted to get up and see if things would continue, but I knew that what I really should do was get sleep – if it was the real thing and was going to pick up I'd eventually HAVE to get up. When my birthings get going I don't want to be lying down. But since I *could* lie down at that point that's what I chose to do. I debated going down to lie on the couch, closer to the bathroom (we don't have a master bathroom), but decided my bed was more comfortable. I did end up falling asleep, and woke this morning with a twinge of disappointment. But I was also thankful that I'd made the choice to try to sleep. Now I'm not exhausted! And you never know… I suppose baby could decide to come today 😉
Of course “what do I want to do right now” isn't always answered by sleeping. Sometimes you'll decide to have a snack or make a meal. Sometimes it is to try to sleep or nap. Sometimes it's to find something to organize, make a phone call, or read a book. The point the Pink Kit makes (far more elaborately than I do!) is just to take it easy – don't get too worked up. Let normal life continue until it's really time to get into the business of birthing your baby.
Big Emotional Benefits
The emotional benefits of this could be said to outweigh the physical. It is very trying to wonder, over and over “is this it?” in the last days of pregnancy. It feels like everybody is holding their breath, staring straight at YOU. You feel like a ticking bomb sometimes! This gets hard, especially if you're uncomfortable and getting up to pee four times a night! So just asking yourself “what do I want to do right now” can help you shift away from fretting and wondering and getting worked up. You just pick something and do it. Then decide to do something else. If it's time for your baby to come you'll soon know it without a doubt. And if it's not you'll be glad you got that nap or that snack, went on a walk with your older children or finished the next chapter in your book.
So now I'm off to work through my to-do list and figure out what to make for lunch… hoping for something to start happening but knowing that whether it does or doesn't, I can just ask myself “what do I want to do now” and the time will pass 🙂