If you’re a first-time mom, then this article will benefit you greatly. We will be discussing a whole lot about something that no pregnant woman can ever NOT go through – contractions. You’ll want them to go away, but you know you need them to get you through labor and delivery, and finally seeing your baby.
A pregnancy contraction is an important sign to watch out for when you’re about to deliver and will go into labor. And although not all contractions mean that you’ll there, they serve as a warning sign that something about your pregnancy needs your attention. It is imperative, therefore, that every woman who plans to get pregnant must know how these uterine contractions feel like, and in the first place, what they are.
Let’s read through this post and learn what we must about the topic.
Pregnancy Or Uterine Contractions
Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll be feeling your stomach constrict or harden, and then eventually relax. Dr. Paul du Treil, director of Maternal And Child Health at Touro Infirmary says, “The uterus is exercising for the grand finale.” He adds that these pregnancy contractions are an introduction to the special event, the body’s way of preparing you to push your baby out of you and into the world. When your uterine muscles tighten, and your stomach hardens, your baby is guided towards the appropriate position for delivery.
As you go through the pregnancy and then through labor, your contractions progress from the feeling of minor menstrual cramping to stronger and more severe painful tightening. For some, it may just feel like a huge poop is about to come out of the anus, which is a sensible feeling because the muscles we use when we push out bowel movement are the same muscles that we use to push our baby out.
Different Types Of Pregnancy Contractions
- Early Contractions
These are contractions that pregnant women experience during the first trimester. They can occur as a way of their bodies adjusting to the pregnancy. The ligaments are beginning to stretch, which may be the reason for the contraction. Gas pain, constipation, and dehydration may also result in contractions.
You can do a simple test to know if you’re going into labor or not. Just lie down and touch your stomach, where your uterus is located. Let your hand feel the whole uterus. If it’s hard all over, then you’re having cramps. If some parts are hard and the others are soft, then perhaps the baby is moving around your tummy.
If early contractions are accompanied by spotting, you must consult your doctor right away to make sure that a miscarriage doesn’t happen.
- Preterm Contractions
Pregnant women also experience spontaneous and irregular contractions after the 34th week. These are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions. These are supposed to be painless contractions and are sometimes called ‘practice contractions’ since some doctors believe that these are the womb’s way of preparing itself for true labor and delivery. They usually last for a minute, and they do not increase in intensity. If you think you’re having Braxton-Hicks contractions, you don’t need to worry. Try to relax, elevate your feet, or simply lie down on your left side. Also, try drinking a glass of water. They will eventually disappear.
However, if you feel that your uterus is regularly contracting, like every five or ten minutes, you may be having early labor. Do call or visit your doctor or doula as soon as possible.
- Back Contractions
Real labor contractions can result in back pain, which can start from cramping or dull pain that radiates to your uterus, and then progress to more severe distress at the lower back area. This may be what is referred to as back labor, characterized by an excruciating lower back.
Back labor is usually felt when the baby moves as it positions itself towards the vaginal canal. When the baby’s head is facing upward, this sometimes puts added pressure on the woman’s back, causing intense pain in that area. Unfortunately, back labor pains don’t subside for some women, so they will need to ask for help from their doctor for some safe medications that they can take to help with the pain. If there are drug-free means to do this, the better.
- Sex Contractions
If a woman’s pregnancy is healthy or without complications, then sex doesn’t heighten the risk of having premature labor. Orgasms, which may happen with or without sex, don’t usually trigger contractions, but may sometimes cause Braxton-Hicks contractions or minimal spotting. These should disappear in a few hours. However, if spotting or contractions do not stop or there is accompanying pain, decreased fetal movements, or vaginal discharge, these are not normal symptoms and should be reported to the doctor right away.
The General Guideline
Your midwife or doula plays a vital role in guiding and teaching you about the types of contractions that you should expect and when to think about heading to the hospital. But as a general guideline, mothers should learn the 4-1-1 rule of labor.
You should head to the birth center or hospital when you notice that your contractions are 4 minutes apart, at least 1 minute long, and has been happening for 1 hour.
Once the regular contractions begin, expect these to increase in intensity and frequency up until you give birth. These are the important details to remember about the phases of labor and how long you’ll feel the contractions:
Early Labor typically lasts for about 12 hours but shorter for mothers who have had previous pregnancies. The contractions come between 5 and 30-minute intervals and last for 30 seconds.
Active Labor usually lasts for three or more hours, and the contractions come every four minutes. They continue for about one minute.
Transition is the shortest phase but is the most severe part of the labor process. The transition phase only lasts for 15 minutes to about an hour, and the contractions appear fast, lasting about 90 seconds. These contractions are a result of the dilatation of the cervix to a full 10cm for the delivery of the baby.
Women may all agree that contractions are indeed painful, but they do have a very relevant purpose – to prepare the body for their baby’s coming out into the world. Some mothers-to-be prefer to give birth the natural way, and it is possible. Below is a list of some effective pain relief strategies and relaxation techniques that women can do to prepare them for the big day.
- Acupressure And Massage. These are gentle ways of helping one obtain pain relief and relaxation. The therapist can focus on the painful areas and apply mild pressure that is comfortable for the individual.
- Recreational Walks. They’re probably the safest way to exercise during pregnancy. Walking keeps pregnant women active without harming the baby inside them. It also helps decrease the intensity of contractions when they come. Using a birthing ball for toning activities is also encouraged.
- Deep Breathing And Meditation. Breathing exercises should be done regularly, as one can significantly benefit from these before and during delivery. Meditation also calms the mind and body.
- These are positive phrases that one can say to herself to instill healthy and encouraging thoughts. They have been used by people who need enlightenment in every aspect of their lives – business, love, relationships, and of course, are very helpful for pregnant women.
How about you? Have you been keeping track of your contractions lately? Why don’t you try these strategies above? Let us know if they work for you!
How do you know if you are having a contraction?
Pregnancy contractions are strong, and they have a specific pattern. Your water may break, and your lower back and belly may hurt as well.
How do pregnancy contractions feel when they first start?
Pregnancy contractions start when you feel pain in the back. The sensation can move to the lower abdomen, its intensity increasing gradually.
How early can contractions start in pregnancy?
First-time mothers may experience contractions as early as 16 weeks. There are a lucky few, however, who do not feel it at all.
Are contractions regular during pregnancy?
Yes, it is common to feel contractions during pregnancy. Mild sensations may be experienced from the fourth month and transition into stronger contractions as the due date comes near.
Where do contractions hurt?
You feel the contractions in the lower back and abdomen. There may also be a distinct pressure in your pelvis as the uterus contracts.
Do contractions feel like poop cramps?
Yes, contractions technically feel like poop cramps, especially when you start pushing. This is why mothers typically cannot help but do #2 during labor.
Can you be in labor and not know it?
Yes, you can be in labor and not know it. Sometimes, if you get Braxton Hicks contractions often, you may not realize it when you are already experiencing real contractions.
Can contractions be painless?
Yes, not all contractions are painful. The pain may start when the baby is close to coming out.
When should I go to the hospital for cramps during pregnancy?
You should go to the hospital when the cramps are continuous or too painful. But even if it is mild, make sure to contact your OB-GYN, too.
What is silent labor?
Silent labor entails that no one in the room can make a sound as the mother starts pushing the baby out of her womb. It is mandatory in the Scientology doctrine.
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