Braxton Hicks? The start of labour? Here is how to tell the difference between the two so you know when to head to the hospital. Cause lets face it, when your this pregnant the last thing you want to do is be sent home because your not in labour.
Before we get to into the nitty gritty of all this, there is a free easy to read printable at the end of all this, so don’t feel like you need to make notes. Baby brain is a real thing so print it off and slap it on your fridge mama, then use it for a quick reference guide!
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what are Braxton hicks contractions?
These are the practice contractions. Yup, because pregnancy wasn’t uncomfortable enough already, your body also spends time getting ready for the real deal. Think of it this way though, growing and birthing that sweet little baby is more of a marathon than a sprint, and you wouldn’t just run a marathon without training, right?
What do Braxton hicks contractions feel like?
An uncomfortable (not painful) tightening of your entire abdomen at irregular intervals. First mine would be every 7 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 2 minutes then back up to 7 minutes…. See how irregular that is? It is down right aggravating when you are so over being pregnant and just want to meet your baby already! This irregularity and no change in severity is a MAJOR sign that you are experiencing Braxton hicks and not real labour contractions.
When do Braxton hicks happen?
Braxton hicks are a normal way for your body to practice for labour without causing any actual progression (cervical dilation and movement of baby down the birth canal). But did you know they can occur for other reasons too? Some causes of Braxton hicks are actually preventable and you can even get them to stop.
Some of the other causes of braxton hicks contractions are:
- You have done to much activity – Put those feet up and take it easy Mama!
- You are dehydrated – Grab some water!
- Your bladder is really full – head to the bathroom… again!
So know that you know what Braxton hicks can feel like lets take a look at REAL labour contractions. These types of contractions are much different and will lead to your baby being born – YAY!
Check out this post HERE on how to pack your hospital bag – the things you REALLY need!
What do real labour contractions feel like?
When you are in labour the pain will be experienced in your abdomen and or lower back and may even radiate down your thighs. The pain starts out mild (like a menstrual cramp) and then increases in intensity until your baby is born. Unlike Braxton hicks contractions, labour contractions will come at routine intervals (for example every 10 minutes) and that interval will get smaller and smaller as your labour progresses. Labour contractions will not be stopped by hydrating, relaxing or going to the bathroom. These will keep going until you have your baby.
How do I know when I should go to the hospital?
Always take your health care providers advice here, but as a general guidance most suggest going when:
- Your water breaks or you are having vaginal bleeding or any unusual discharge
- Contractions are lasting a full minute in length
- Contractions are coming at regular intervals of 3-5 minutes for at least 1 hour
- You are finding it difficult to manage the pain
- You feel that you should go to the hospital
Once you get to the hospital you will be assessed by the healthcare team and then they will direct you further from there.
That’s a wrap!
Good Luck on the remainder of your pregnancy and your labour and delivery experience.
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Did you experience any other signs of labour that made you realize it wasn’t just Braxton hicks contractions? Id love to hear from you in the comments!