Prodromal Labor

Prodromal Labor: Causes and Symptoms

What Is Prodromal Labor?

The term “prodrome” comes from the Greek word meaning “a sudden change.” A prodrome is a sudden change in behavior or appearance that occurs before symptoms appear. These changes may include facial flushing, rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The onset of these signs usually occur within 24 hours after exposure to an infectious agent such as bacteria or viruses.

A prodrome is not always associated with a disease. For example, it can be caused by certain medications, pregnancy or even stress. Some people develop prodromal labor without any known cause. Others have a history of preterm birth and are at risk for developing it during delivery if they deliver prematurely (before 37 weeks). Still others experience prodromal labor but do not want to go into labor because they fear complications such as hemorrhage, infection or rupture of membranes.

When Does Prodromal Labor Occur?

Prodromal labor typically begins within 2–3 days of exposure to an infectious agent. However, there are some conditions that increase the likelihood of having a prodrome sooner rather than later.

What Are the Causes of Prodromal Labor?

The medical term for prodromal labor is “latent phase of partus”. This condition occurs when a pregnant woman starts having mild, irregular contractions. However, her cervix is not effaced or open wide enough to allow the baby to move down the birth canal. The contractions are painless and may or may not continue.

When Do the Contractions Occur?

The contractions can be detected by placing a hand on the pregnant woman’s abdomen. The contractions cause the woman’s stomach to become firm and hard. These contractions are most likely to occur within two days of exposure to an infection or other cause, such as stress. In some women, however, they may not begin until up to one week after the infection.

How Long Does Prodromal Labor Last?

Sources & references used in this article:

Midwifery management of prodromal labor by P Deibel – Journal of nurse-midwifery, 1985 – Elsevier

Management of prolonged latent phase labor by G Sinquefield, LP Hunter… – Journal of Nurse …, 1996 – Wiley Online Library

Honoring Prodromal Labor by E Wright – Special Delivery, 2000 –

Opioid modulation of oxytocin release by MS Morris, EF Domino… – The Journal of Clinical …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library

What Is Prodromal Labor? How Do I Know If I’m Having It? by J Taylor –