They told me that soon I’d be experiencing that most wonderful precursor to actual labor, Braxton Hicks contractions.
I had begun to forget about them, and if I had been thinking about them, I would have been convinced that I was out of danger. Wrooooong!
Braxton Hicks is when the uterus muscles contract sporadically for about 1 to 2 minutes. These were generally thought to exist to help pregnant women’s bodies prepare for actual labor.
They don’t play any part in the effacement of the cervix. Though not everybody feels these in the same way, if they feel them at all. Here’s a description of what Braxton Hicks might feel like from http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/braxtonhicks.html
- Irregular in intensity
- More uncomfortable than painful (for some women Braxton Hicks can feel painful)
- They do not increase in intensity, or frequency
- They taper off and then disappear altogether
I feel them now! Sometimes they wake me up at night, though briefly. But mostly I seem to experience them in the morning after I’ve gotten up, which makes me suspect dehydration as the main culprit. My OBGYN warned us that if I didn’t get enough water I could experience false labor, and the best avoidance were large glasses of water. Oddly enough, letting go of water is helpful too. Go to the bathroom! Sometimes the cramps are immediately alleviated by a morning trip to the ladies.
While I wait for the water to make it through my system I concentrate on not holding my breath. It’s amazing how much relief I can get by breathing slow, deep, breaths in through the nose and out through my mouth.
Then I squirm in my chair until I find that I’m suddenly a bit more comfortable. So, change your position. Maybe lay back down on your left, I don’t because my pelvic girdle pain is too much to contend with and I don’t like to get up and down a lot.
Here’s a list of reasons to call your physician from http://www.babycenter.com/0_braxton-hicks-contractions_156.bc you may be in real labor if…
- Abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramping, or more than four contractions in one hour (even if they don’t hurt.)
- Any vaginal bleeding or spotting
- An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge- if it becomes water, mucusy or bloody (even if it’s only pink or blood-tinged)
- More pressure in the pelvic area (a feeling that your baby’s pushing down)
- Low back pain, especially if it’s dull or rhythmic, or you didn’t previously have back pain
So try and find the true difference between false and actual labor it could save you the worry it caused me!