Contractions and Labor Pains
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Contractions and Labor Pains

calendarJuly 20, 2016

Signs of contractions

When they are real contractions, they show you that labor has started. In this article you will find information about timing contractions, what the types of contractions are, what causes them and how to relieve the pain.

What is a Contraction?

This is the periodic tightening and relaxing of the uterine muscle. It happens when the pituitary gland releases a hormone called oxytocin that stimulates the uterine tightening. This contraction definition shows that your body totally needs contractions for delivering the baby. No one can say for sure when true labor contractions will begin.

How Do Early Contractions Feel Like?

Even in the first trimester (1st week - 13 weeks), contractions could appear. This is the way of your body to adjust to the pregnancy. The early contractions are caused by the stretching of the ligaments around the uterus. Other reasons might be dehydration, constipation and others. Have in mind that if you notice spotting, bleeding and abdominal pain at the same time, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible. These might be signs of ectopic pregnancy or a potential miscarriage which are dangerous for you.

How to Recognize a Contraction?

First, lie down in a comfortable position and place a hand on the uterus. If the entire uterus is hard during the cramp, you are probably experiencing a contraction. In the other case – when the uterus is hard in one place and soft in others, it is probably just the moving of the baby.

What Are Preterm Contractions?

Usually, the contractions which occur after week 34 are irregular and appear suddenly. These are Braxton-Hicks contractions which do not cause labor. However, when the pregnancy contractions appear every 10 minutes or less, you might be in preterm labor. Call your doctor immediately if you notice regular contractions before week 37 of pregnancy.

How to Feel Better During Early Contractions?

You could feel better with drinking plenty of water and other non-alcohol liquids; taking a warm bath; keeping your bladder empty and breathing rhythmically. If your contractions appear in regular and small intervals and are so painful that you could hardly talk during them, then you probably are in active labor. So, if your contractions are about a minute long and come in approximately every five minutes, call the doctor.

False Labor Contraction vs True Labor Contractions

If you wonder where you are having false or true labor contractions, pay attention to the following things:

  • False labor contractions do not have a pattern and they could appear at every moment. They are irregular and will vary a lot in length and intensity.
  • Real contractions are sometimes irregular at first but after some time, they will start to happen at regular and shorter intervals. Also, they will increase their intensity and will last longer.
  • False labor contractions might be affected positively by the changing of the position. On the other side, with the true labor contractions, you will not, achieve anything if you change your position. They will remain painful and intense.

Should I Call the Doctor When I Feel Contractions?

Timing contractions

When you notice contractions that you consider to be true one and you have not still reached week 37 of pregnancy, call your health care provider right away. These contractions might be caused by preterm labor and you need urgent medical help. If you have passed week 37 of pregnancy and think that these are real contractions, wait a little and check if they follow a specific pattern. The true labor contractions appear at smaller intervals over time and become more intense. If you have such contractions, this is the time to call the doctor and go to the hospital.

What Do Braxton Hicks Contractions Feel Like?

They create a feeling of tightening in the area of the abdomen. This feeling comes and goes with no warning. They might also be described as mild menstrual cramps.

What Should You Know about Braxton Hicks Contractions?

They will cause you a feeling of discomfort but will not lead to labor or open the cervix. These contractions have the following characteristics:

  • they are usually not painful;
  • these are irregular contractions with no time pattern;
  • do not appear more and more often, at smaller intervals;
  • do not become stronger and longer;
  • can be relieved with changing of the position;
  • do not increase their strength if you walk.

These are contractions that you might have during the third trimester (28 weeks - 40 weeks) or even earlier - during the second one (14 weeks - 27 weeks). They are normal and are not one of the signs of labor.

How Do Contractions Feel?

What is going to happen in your body during labor depends on your condition and is totally individual. Still, contractions will appear for sure because they are the way of the body to make the baby exit. True labor contractions cause a sensation of pain and pressure in the pelvis and also in the lower back and the abdomen. You might also have labor pains in the thighs and the sides.

What Do Real Contractions Feel Like?

They might be as strong, stunning and painful as the menstrual cramps. They are often described as a cramping or tightening sensation. This feeling starts in the back and moves to the front in a like a wave. The abdomen will be hard to the touch during the contraction.

What Is the Role of Contractions?

This is the mechanism of the body of the pregnant woman to cause the upper part of the uterus to tighten and thicken. At the same time, the cervix and the lower portion of the uterus stretch and relax. Thus, the baby passes from inside the uterus into the birth canal.

How To Time Contractions?

Timing contractions requires counting from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next. You have to do this as soon as you suspect that you might be in labor. Then call your doctor and explain what the interval between contractions is and how long they last.

1. How to Cope with the Painful Feeling? Contractions are painful but they are necessary for delivering your baby. Try to think about the contractions as something positive. Also, try to stay as relaxed as possible during the contractions and make save energy.

2. Duration of Labor As mentioned, there is much individuality what will happen during your labor. Usually, it last longer for the women who give birth for the first time. In these cases, labor could take up to fourteen hours. During a subsequent birth, it might take less than 10 hours.

3. How to Make Giving Labor Easier? You can make it a little easier for you if you pay attention to what happens with your body and makes you feel more comfortable.

4. Try to Relax This is very important. If you succeed to relax in the first hours of labor, you will be able to save energy. You will need it soon – during the coming harder labor.

5. Change the Position of Your Body Often You need to change your position regularly. The positions which are upright and use the advantage of gravity might be really useful and will relieve your condition.

6. Control Your Breathing When the labor contractions get stronger and more painful, using specific breathing techniques can be very useful. These techniques will help you control the pain and relax your muscles. Breathing techniques rely on the concentration of your mind on your breathing. When you have a contraction and you try to redirect your thoughts from the idea of feeling pain to holding and controlling your breath, this often helps relieve the pain. You will need a lot of practice before you become able to control the pain. So, spend a lot of time during pregnancy to exercise breathing techniques. Since there is no right or wrong way to breathe, experiment with different breathing techniques. Thus, you will be able to find the one that makes you feel the best.

7. Attend Childbirth Classes during Pregnancy Childbirth classes will help you learn a lot about what is going to happen during pregnancy. You will receive valuable information what are the stages of labor, what causes contractions, what do contractions feel like, how to start contractions, what are the signs of contraction, how to time contractions, how to count contractions, what relaxation techniques to use during labor, when to call the doctor and others. Also, you will be able to exercise different breathing techniques. Then, during labor, you will know what to do and will be able to control your breathing. Attend the classes with your partner. While delivering the baby, you will need someone around you to help you relax and to encourage you. Also, if something unexpected happens, he will be able to react.

8. Prepare Yourself and Your Family Be sure that all of you are well-informed what is going to happen in the following month and what you should do. You should know that there might be complications and how to react if they appear. Have regular visits to your doctor. This will help the health specialist monitor your condition and the one of your baby.

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