Are you pregnant and feel a bit unease on how to know when you start feeling real pregnancy contractions? Then sit back and read this.
Learning the signs of labour before your due date can help you feel ready for your baby’s birth.
These guidelines may just help someone with several questions on how to know real contractions or when just to relax and not be worried sick about how you feel.
Doctors have often shared their experiences on how pregnant women rush down to the hospital, complaining of labour contractions but after examining them, they find out that what they feel are not contractions but either some signs of pregnancy or other issues that require medical attention.
Not all contractions mean you’re in true labour. Learning the difference between true and false labor can help you know when it’s the real thing.
Contraction is when the muscles of your uterus tighten up like a fist and then relax. Contractions help push your baby out.
When you’re in true labour, your contractions are said to last about 30 to 70 seconds and come about five to 10 minutes apart. They’re so strong that you can’t walk or talk during them. They get stronger and closer together over time.
In an article by Match of Dimes, a foundation, established to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality, it explains that not all contractions mean you’re in labor. You may have contractions on and off before true labor starts.
These contractions are called false labor or Braxton-Hicks contractions. They soften and thin the cervix to help your body get ready for labor and birth. You may feel them in the weeks right before your due date. Learning the differences between true labor contractions and false labor contractions can help you know when you’re really in labour.
According to Match of Dimes, It can be hard to tell the difference between true labor and false labor. When you first feel contractions, time them. Write down how much time it takes from the start of one contraction to the start of the next. Make a note of how strong the contractions feel. Keep a record of your contractions for 1 hour. Walk or move around to see if the contractions stop when you change positions.
In another article by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, America’s Second Largest Pediatric Hospital, it explains on its website that Braxton Hicks contractions or false labour are irregular.
According to the hospital, false labour don’t get closer together. They often go away when you walk around, rest, or change position.
Contractions due to real labor tend to be regular, get closer together, get stronger, and continue even with position changes, rest, or movement.
“To tell real labour from false labour, time the length of your contractions. This is the time from the start of one contraction to the start of the next contraction. Also note the time between them.
Call your healthcare provider if your contractions meet the following:
Last at least 30 to 70 seconds, occur at regular intervals, about 5-7 minutes, don’t go away if you lie down, the hospital explains.
You are also advised to call their healthcare provider if their water breaks.
You should call even if you’re not having contractions. Write down the time it happens. Go to your labor and birth facility if any of the following things happen:
You’re bleeding vaginally and it’s more than spotting.
Your contractions are five minutes apart or closer. If your healthcare provider gives you different guidance, go when he or she says to.
You’re in steady, severe pain.
The National Health Service (NHS), the conglomerate name for the publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom explains that the latent stage of labour is where your cervix starts to soften and open (dilate) so your baby can be born.
According to NHS, you may begin to feel irregular contractions, but it can take many hours, or even days, before you’re in established labour. It’s usually the longest stage of labour.
At this stage, your contractions may range from being slightly uncomfortable to more painful. There’s no set pattern to how many contractions you get or how long they last.
During the latent stage, it’s a good idea to have something to eat and drink because you’ll need energy for when labour is established.
If your labour starts at night, try to stay comfortable and relaxed. Sleep if you can.
If your labour starts during the day, stay upright and gently active. This helps your baby move down into your pelvis and helps your cervix to dilate.
Breathing exercises, massage and having a warm bath or shower may help ease pain during this early stage of labour.