“‘False labour” for 3 days…then a water birth!”

First-time mum Lim Qing Ru shares details of her unusual drug-free labour and birthing experience…


“I wanted a water birth after chancing upon a YouTube video six years ago. The lady in the video was almost half-asleep in the tub, with her eyes closed. It was pleasantly quiet, no shouting, no screaming, and that went on for a while before a baby emerged through the water! It was such a magical sight when the mum instinctively picked up her baby and put it to her chest.

I made up my mind then if I ever had a baby, I’d have a water birth. I even told my friends about my newfound wish and they thought I was mad!

Even though water births are quite common in Europe and America, I didn’t know anyone who had a successful water birth here in Singapore. Hence, I could only rely on books and classes to prepare myself.

I read up on natural birthing theories including hypnobirthing, the Bradley method, and Lamaze and Alexander birthing techniques. I also signed up for more than 30 hours of prenatal classes with Four Trimesters and NUH, which were extremely useful, and I engaged a doula (Deanna Kearns).

In the last three weeks leading up to my birth, I did birthing exercises and listened to birth affirmations every night before going to bed.

I made up my mind then if I ever had a baby, I’d have a water birth.”

I was fortunate to have an extremely smooth pregnancy. However, just one week before my due date, I was hit by a condition called prodromal labour.

Prodromal labour, or false labour, feels like actual labour contractions. But unlike a normal labour, which has a progressive labour pattern, the interval between contractions doesn’t always get shorter and the contractions don’t always get stronger.

In fact, nothing progresses in prodromal labour! The cervix does not dilate, neither does it thin. Instead, the lower part of the uterus contracts as strongly as the upper part, which prevents the cervix from dilating…so, it’s super-demoralising! Imagine, labouring for three days with no end in sight!

The contractions were irregular, sometimes lengthening, sometimes shortening. Its frequency ranged from every hour, to every three minutes. Their intensity also varied each time.

I was sleepless and in constant pain for three days and nights. I was tired and exhausted. Not knowing how long this would last, I got to a dark place very quickly.

I told my doula about these contractions and she advised me to wait at home till my contractions showed a regular pattern.

Based on what I’ve read online, some women report having prodromal labour for weeks! The prospect of that happening to me made me break down emotionally, twice. I cried like a baby, wallowed in self-pity and started seeing my ‘perfect birth’ fade away.

Imagine labouring for three days with no end in sight…Details, next!