Braxton Hicks Contractions
[TRANSCRIPT OF ANSWER]
“Braxton Hicks Contractions. So let’s talk a little bit about what’s the definition of labor, how to know if what you’re experiencing is actually making a difference or changing your body, or how do you know if it’s even time to call your midwife or your doctor? The true definition of labor is contractions that are changing the cervix. So let’s talk first about what’s a contraction.
A contraction in Labor: What do they feel like?
A contraction in labor is like a contraction at any health club in America. It’s a muscle that’s moving through a full range of motion. So assuming I actually had any real muscle to talk about this muscle, my bicep would contract by starting soft and relaxed building to a peak and easing back down in the gym. When I flex this muscle, if I touch the peak of it, it feels nice and firm.
And as I let it go, it gets nice and soft and long. In labor, it’s obviously not your bicep, it’s your uterus that’s working. So your uterus will contract up, get nice and firm. And then relax back down. If it’s a real contraction, you’ll not only be able to feel the firmness of your uterus when you touch the top of your uterus, it’ll actually feel from like touching the top of your bicep.
How to decide if it’s True Labor?
But in addition to that, you’ll feel an achy, crampy sensation underneath, that achy crampy sensation underneath is a kind of a sign to you that the muscle fibers at the very bottom of your uterus are getting the pressure of the contraction and getting pulled up. So true labor is defined by three things.
Do these contractions get longer, stronger, and closer together over time? If you time your contractions and you know they are lasting about one minute from the beginning to the peak and all the way back down, and then the break is averaging out to a very predictable interval, whether that’s three minutes long or four minutes long or five minutes long, but it’s getting a pattern that you begin to anticipate.
What are the signs of True Labor?
I will have a one-minute effortful moment of muscular contraction followed by the same length of a break at three or four or five minutes. That’s a sign of labor that it’s predictable.
If the contractions are longer now than they were an hour ago or two hours ago, that’s another sign that its true labor. And if it becomes so predictable that you know, Oh, I have about three minutes to go to the bathroom or grab a glass of water, it’s so predictable that you begin to anticipate how long till the next one. That’s a really good sign of labor.
False labor is rather unpredictable. There’ll be long and then short, the brakes will get long and then short, but they don’t settle into the same kind of feel as true labor does.
Check the length, intensity, and duration of contractions. Judge Now!
So when you’re actually near the end of your pregnancy and you begin having these tightening sensations in your uterus and you’re trying to decide, is this true labor or false labor, the question to ask is, are these contractions longer, stronger, and closer together than they were several hours? And are they predictable enough and kind of crampy and uncomfortable? If you answer each of those questions, yes, it’s a really good bet that you have begun labor and you’re having true labor.”