It’s hard to tell when you’re at the end of pregnancy if you’re having real contractions. After all, Braxton Hicks can be uncomfortable just like real contractions.
Braxton Hicks are practice contractions so that your body can prepare for labor, in case you weren’t sure. Their job is to get your uterine muscle ready for the big day.
So is it the start of real labor or just more Braxton Hicks?
Let’s talk about how you can really tell whether you’re really in labor or if your body is still just practicing.
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Is It Braxton Hicks Or Real Contractions?
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First Let’s go over What Braxton Hicks Are Like:
Braxton Hicks contractions will be really irregular. They will come at 5 minutes apart, then 10 minutes, then 2 and so on. They will stop and start up again frequently,
During this time there will be no progression for labor and your cervix won’t dilate.
It basically just feels like your abdomen tightening over and over and while it can be quite uncomfortable and exciting, they aren’t usually painful yet.
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These contractions will usually last 30 seconds to a minute although sometimes they may last longer. They are felt at the top of the uterus then squeeze down and they can start as early as the second trimester.
They often feel stronger when you are being more active, or have a full bladder. Dehydration can bring them on as well so stay hydrated.
If you’re having a lot of Braxton Hicks just take it easy, get some rest and drink plenty of fluids.
What True Labor Contractions Feel Like:
When you go into real labor your contractions will come in very regular intervals, they will increase in intensity and your cervix will start to dilate. Getting more rest or water won’t stop their progression.
The contractions will grow closer together and they will last longer growing from 30 seconds up to a minute and a half.
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The pain will begin to radiate through your entire abdomen and into your back. Sometimes you feel pain in your legs as well.
Real contractions are often ( but not always ) accompanied by a bloody show and possibly your water breaking.
It’s all very exciting when you’ve waited so long to see your babe and the time finally arrives!
When To Go To The Hospital:
It’s hard to know exactly when is the best time to go to the hospital when you’re having contractions.
Some women believe it’s too early for their baby to come and wait too long. Others go when their contractions are a few minutes apart only to get there and have labor stop.
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That happened to me but I walked along the hospital halls all night and then in the morning they gave me Pitocin to move things forward and in a few hours, my girl was here.
Sometimes they will send you back home and that’s always a bummer. It can happen several times if your labor starts and stops over and over. It’s not uncommon.
But as a rule of thumb, you should go to the hospital when your contractions are 2 to 3 minutes apart and the pain is becoming so intense that you aren’t able to relax anymore.
You are especially ready to go if the above is true and you have the bloody show or your water has broken. Those things accompanied by contractions are a sure fire way to tell that it’s no false alarm.
If you have any doubts and especially if you are several weeks before your due date it’s always a good idea to go ahead and call your health care provider.
They can reassure you or if they have any concerns she will have you come in to get checked out.
I hope this helps and I wish you all the luck in the world. Enjoy your special time!
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