First, second, third and beyond time moms almost always get to that point in their pregnancy where they have some contractions. A tightening and something just uncomfortable happening. So they wonder ‘Oh, is this IT?! Is it time NOW!?’ and get excited, nervous, worried and overjoyed all at the same time. Things keep going for a bit so you start to time them. Eight minutes apart, yes this must be it! Seven minutes apart, they are getting closer! Then…..nothing. It piddled out. Again. How frustrating.
Let’s talk about the differences in type of contractions. There are Braxton Hicks contractions, also referred to as BH in pregnancy groups online. BH are usually irregular, sometimes they seem to be in a pattern, (7 to 9 minutes for example) but then you’ll have some that space back out before coming back closer together again. BH also do not get more intense. They do not get more painful, which most women do not describe them as painful anyways. They may be uncomfortable and bothersome, but they usually do not get any worse. BH can usually be made to go away, or at least slowed down tremendously. Drinking a big glass of water, taking a bath/shower, laying down or getting up. Just changing what you are doing activity wise can cause BH to stop.
Real labor can be confusing at first. Early labor contractions can seem as though they are Braxton Hicks contractions. People always tell you “When it’s really time, you will know” and chances are you want them to shut up because that’s crazy, how will I ‘just know’? I’m not a turkey with the little red thing that pops out when it’s done!! The majority of the time, this is true, you will know. Or at the very least, you will be thinking that it is time or almost time. Real labor contractions can start off irregular and inconsistent. This is the time to play the ‘I’m not in labor game’, to ignore the contractions the best you can. Eat a meal, take a nap, whatever. Gather your strength, you will need it! Labor contractions will get stronger, they will become more intense. For some women it takes a lot longer for that happen than others. So this where the gathering your strength and resting is very important. If you think your contractions are BH and you do all the little things that can make them go away but they do not, then you probably are looking at real labor contractions. When they are the real deal, nothing will make them stop.
I don’t like to use the term ‘false labor’ because there is nothing false about what you may be feeling! It is very real, it is preparing your baby and your body for the work out that is labor. If you are unsure about what you are feeling or are concerned in any way never hesitate to call your care provider. No one will think you are silly, I promise!