Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but as the due date approaches, it is completely normal to begin feeling anxious and frightened of the birthing process, especially if you are a first time mother. Knowing what to expect can help to alleviate some of that fear and anxiety. This article will help you learn some things you should expect, especially concerning labor contractions.
There are three main stages of labor. In this article, you will mostly learn about the first two stages, because that is where the majority of contractions occur. Labor contractions occur when the uterine muscle contracts and releases periodically. Different women feel them differently. Some say that they begin in the back and radiate to the front in a wave-like pattern. Others think they just feel like back pressure.
Contractions are what move the labor process along progressively. They cause the upper part of the uterus to thicken and tighten while the lower portion, including the cervix, stretch and relax. This process allows the baby to move comfortably into the birthing canal.
Sometimes it is hard to discern the difference between true labor contractions and Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions start occurring as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, although you probably will not feel them. As your pregnancy progresses, they may become more frequent, and possibly even more uncomfortable or even painful. There is one way to tell the different between these contractions and the real thing. Real ones will become increasingly stronger, longer, and with shorter space in between.
Because Braxton Hicks contractions can cause discomfort, it is important for you to know some tips and tricks to alleviate the aches. One thing you can try is to change your position or your activity. Another is to drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration, which can cause these false labor pains. Warm baths and other relaxation techniques can help your body to calm down. One important fact to note is that these methods will not work if you are experiencing true contractions; nothing will make those diminish because they help your body prepare for labor.
How to Time Contractions
There are two terms you need to know in order to time your contractions. Frequency refers to the amount of contractions you have within a certain time, and duration refers to how long each contraction lasts. The best way to keep track is to write them down. Write the time that each contraction starts, count how many seconds it lasts, and then write that down as well. Doing this helps you and your doctors know what stage you are at in your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is not something to be fearful of. Labor contractions are what allow your baby to safely move into the birthing canal and then out of your vaginal opening. They may be uncomfortable, but that is to be expected. Your doctors and nurses will do everything they can to make you as comfortable as possible during the birthing process.