Even though you might already know that contractions are only natural, and they happen so that your uterus has all the practice it needs to be able to work well during labor and help with the delivery of the baby. However, more often than not, the heart rules over the head, and you find yourself worrying over the contractions. This time, let’s look at contractions, the mechanisms behind contractions, the pain, how long the pain lasts and when it could possibly start.
Why do I get contractions?
When labor starts and your body readies itself to push the baby out of your uterus, regular contractions will start. The contractions you feel at the start of labor are – it goes without saying – labor contractions. The exact mechanisms behind the contractions that take place aren’t known, but it might go like this.
When progesterone – the hormone that maintains the state of pregnancy – is secreted in decreased amounts, the baby drops. This leads to the increased secretion of oxytocin which will ultimately result in contractions. There are old wives’ tales that the hormones from the baby’s brain are actually the reason for contractions. There is no science for this – but we’re sure your baby wants to get out and meet you as soon as possible too!
When will I go to labor?
Contractions that signal the start of labor are called “true labor contractions”. Before the true labor contractions come, though, you will experience false labor contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions. Braxton Hicks contractions differ from mom to mom, but in general, they start a few days just before labor. Braxton Hicks contractions come and then subside repeatedly, and this ultimately leads to true labor contractions.
If this is your first pregnancy, you might be wondering how you can tell one from the other. Even if you haven’t had any firsthand experience, knowing this alone will help: True labor contractions are regular contractions that are more painful than false labor contractions. The intervals between true labor contractions also shorten over time.
How long are the intervals between contractions like?
Labor contractions last all the way to the end of labor, and until the baby is delivered. The pain doesn’t necessarily stay the same throughout the contractions. In the intervals between the contractions, there isn’t much pain. The interval between the contractions refers to the time lapse between the peak of the contractions.
When this interval is as short as about 10 minutes, then it means you should contact your practitioner right away! However, it’s recommended that you note how far you are from the hospital, and if need be, you might want to contact your practitioner before the intervals between contractions shorten to about 10 minutes.
How painful is labor?
When you go into labor, the areas where you feel pain and the type of pain you feel will change. True labor contractions usually start off as weak and irregular contractions which then become stronger and more regular over time.
As labor progress and the baby drops, your pelvis expands and you might feel pain in areas like your waist, lower back, groin or thighs. According to moms who already have had gone through this, it usually feels as if your lower back is being sliced open.
When the baby’s head enters the cervix, the area around your vagina will hurt. The pain might be similar to pain from constipation and you might feel like you’re straining to move your bowels. All you have to do is to bear with the pain until the cervix is completely open!
Put into practice when labor contractions start: Breathe in, breathe out!
Labor contractions are painful and the start of labor could come as a very big shock. The labor contractions aren’t going to get better as labor progress, but the good news is that your uterus will be practicing hard for the real labor, so you’ll get used to the pain in no time. The pain might have knocked the socks off your feet, but don’t panic! Remember to relax and breathe in, breathe out! You have been practicing hard at that, haven’t you? When the time comes, don’t fail to put all that you’ve learned into practice!