Prodrome pregnancy, what they are, how to recognize them and how long they last

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Pregnancy prodrome

I prodromi they are that set of symptoms that indicate to an expectant mother that labor is upon us. These are the first contractions that can last hours or days, until they become regular and lead the woman to the hospital.

Childbirth, in fact, can be divided into different phases: the prodromal phase (which we are talking about in this article), the dilating one, the expulsive one and the afterbirth phase.

But how to recognize which are the prodromi, especially if you are at the first pregnancy? We find out in this guide

  • Prodromal what they are
  • Symptoms of the prodromal phase
  • Loss of the mucous plug
  • What to do when contractions come
  • How much time passes between prodrome and labor
Read also: What is progesterone for in pregnancy

Prodromes: what they are

The pregnancy is winding down, there are a few weeks or a few days to go until the "end of time" when the woman begins to feel something different. In addition to the fatigue and contractions of Braxton Hicks (the painless ones with which the expectant mother is familiar with during gestation), the woman feels - suddenly - some twinges in her belly. The first, the second after a while and so on. These are painful pangs, which last a few minutes, are not regular, but they make the mother change expression and immobilize her from standing, lying or squatting. 

They are really i prodromi. The contractions are increasing, some are more painful, some less, labor is upon us. It cannot be said that the prodromes have a precise duration, it is a subjective experience that changes from mother to mother, but one thing is certain: childbirth is not so far away. 

Surely the arrival of the contractions should be monitored if in the first pregnancy. If, on the other hand, the woman is in her second or third pregnancy, it would be preferable to go to the hospital as labor - in all probability - will be shorter.

Better to get checked by the gynecologist, in any case, or go to the emergency room to check if those contractions have already begun to modify the cervix, introducing the woman in the second phase: the dilating one. 

When to go to the hospital for childbirth?

When to really go to the hospital? Don't lose your temper, observe if the contractions occur at regular intervals (5 minutes) and if they last between 30 and 60 seconds.

And then: you are out of breath when you go up the steps, do you need to breathe loudly? These are all signs that the time for childbirth is near.

If you're not sure if these are true contractions, take a warm bath or go to bed. If it comes to false contractions (Braxton Hicks), they will become weaker. On the contrary, true labor pains intensify.

Symptoms of the prodromal phase

Especially for first time moms, we list what are the classics symptoms of the prodromal phase:

  • the loss of the mucous plug
  • menstrual and lower back pain
  • preparatory contractions: painful but irregular

What actually happens in the prodromal phase is the transformation of the cervix and therefore its shortening and dilation up to 4 centimeters.

Loss of the mucous plug

The loss of the mucous plug does not indicate the onset of labor but signals that you have officially entered the prodromal phase. In particular, the expulsion of the mucous plug occurs with the release of a gelatinous substance, whitish and sometimes streaked with blood from the vagina. When women feel it leaking out and find the marks on their panties, they can be sure that delivery is near.

The fact that the mucous plug is expelled indicates, concretely, that the cervix is ​​changing, that is, it begins to dilate. It is possible that some capillaries break, hence the small blood losses. It is advisable to inform the gynecologist or midwife of what has happened, but without going to the hospital yet.

Read also: Uterus: how it turns in pregnancy and childbirth

What to do when contractions come

Contractions are another symptom of the prodrome preceding labor. Painful twinges that affect the lower abdomen and also involve the lower back and buttocks most of the time.

The contractions of the prodromal phase are more or less painful, they do not always have the same duration, they are not regular. These are the signs that must make the expectant mother understand that it is not yet about the contractions of labor. But still, we're almost there.

Gynecologists and obstetricians advise the woman to do not go to the hospital when the contractions are still irregular. Much changes, however, if the woman is not in her first pregnancy and if the distance to the hospital is enough. In this case, it is better to contact your trusted gynecologist or midwife and approach the facility chosen to give birth. 

How long does it take between prodrome and labor?

It is among the most frequently asked questions among expectant mothers, whose answer would reassure many: "How much time passes between prodrome and labor?".

The truth is that the time that passes between the arrival of the prodrome and labor is not the same for everyone. In some cases, only a few hours pass, in others even days. It changes a lot from woman to woman, so it is good for the pregnant woman to relax when the prodrome arrives, try to stay calm, listen to her body and her baby, to seek reassurance from the doctors who have it. followed during pregnancy, to clearly understand when it is time to go to the hospital. 

Running to the hospital at the first contraction may be exaggerated, but if this reassures the woman, nothing prevents her from doing so. If the stage of labor is near, the expectant mother will be detained by the doctors, otherwise she will be reassured and sent home. 

The last hours before childbirth are very delicate and the way in which the woman psychologically reaches labor is fundamental, for this reason the watchword is only one: to do what makes you feel more peaceful.


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