Pregnancy is a magical time in a woman’s life, or so they say. While it is nothing short of miraculous to grow a life inside you, the nine months of being pregnant are anything but pleasant. Nausea, body aches, mood swings, cravings, and irritability become a part of your life for those nine months and feel nothing like magic. But the biggest emotion of all is fear. What if something goes wrong?
Women worry about pregnancy and tend to harbor fear and panic, especially if they are pregnant for the first time. However, it’s important to stay calm and avoid getting anxious during pregnancy. As long as you take care of yourself and regularly consult your doctor, there is no need to worry.
Most women fear the last stages of pregnancy. The closer the due date, the bigger the fear. It’s normal to be nervous but remember that this is the time you’ve been preparing for the last nine months. When the time comes, you might get nervous and anxious about what to do. You might wonder when you should go to the hospital, how to understand if you are really in labor, and it can be overwhelming. Moreover, since it is common to experience fake contractions, which may feel like you’re in labor, it can be scary if you don’t know the difference between fake versus real contractions. So, we are here to give you some tips to figure out fake contractions versus real ones and when you should go to the hospital.
What Are Fake Contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions are contractions that start to occur around 6 weeks gestation and are also referred to as false labor contractions. They are sporadic contractions in the uterine walls and are usually not felt until the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It’s a way for your body to prepare for the real labor, but it does not mean that labor has started or is about to start (1).
Braxton Hicks are a normal part of pregnancy. They occur in irregular durations and levels of intensity. They may be uncomfortable but not necessarily painful, and most women describe them as mild menstrual cramps. Unlike real labor, Braxton Hicks contractions do not increase in frequency, duration, or intensity. They also disappear and lessen until they resurface after a while. With Braxton Hicks contractions, your cervix does not dilate, but they do feel like actual labor, and many women mistake them for it (2).
When Should You Call The Doctor About Braxton Hicks?
Although Braxton Hicks contractions are common and there is no indication of labor, here are a few symptoms which warrant a visit to the hospital (3):
- Increasing pelvic pressure or lower back pain
- More than four contractions per hour
- Abdominal pain or menstrual-like cramps
- Increasing discharge down there or spotting
How Do You Know When You’re In Labor?
Many mothers describe contractions similar to menstrual cramps. The contractions usually occur in waves. They peak and hit the highest level of intensity and then subside until the next one. As your body prepares for labor, the duration between contractions will become shorter, unlike Braxton Hicks contractions. You know you’re in labor when the strength of each contraction increases and the peaks start arriving sooner. They also last longer (4).
It’s good to time your contractions, and when you notice regularity in them, it’s time to go to the doctor. When in labor, your contractions follow a pattern. They are usually 5-7 minutes apart but have no rhythm. Call your doctor or midwife immediately or get to the hospital. If you’re delivering for the first time, typical labor lasts for about 8-14 hours, but it gets shorter with the next birth. Many women say that a rocking chair or swaying during a contraction helps them relax (5).
It might be scary to deliver a baby, especially for the first time but remember that you are not alone and that you will get through it. We hope this article helped you. Share it with other moms-to-be to help them too!