Avoiding False Alarms Associated With Braxton Hicks Contractions
Many first time moms and first time dads will rush to the emergency room at the first moment that the mother has a contraction. This is not always necessary. If you take Lamaze Class, they should teach you about how to know when it is time to go to the hospital. It is a little known fact that the mother can spend most of the labor process at home. It is actually recommended that women stay at home as long as medically possible. This allows the mother to calm down and be more relax, rather than spending 24 to 48 hours in a hospital bed. This article is not about figuring out when your wife or girlfriend is in labor. Rather I would like to talk about signs that she is not in labor.
Although contractions are a good indicator that the labor process is beginning, it can also be a misleading indicator. The mother will actually have contractions all throughout the pregnancy starting about six weeks into the pregnancy. These contractions start off extremely mild. So mind in fact, that the mother may never feel them. These contractions are called Braxton Hicks contractions. Towards the end of the pregnancy the mother will start to actually feel these contractions. Sometimes these contractions can cause false alarms and needless trips to the birthing center. These contractions, also known as false labor, will behave differently than real labor contractions. Unlike true labor contractions, false labor contractions will not grow in intensity and the frequency will not increase over time. False labor contractions will eventually subside.
One way to ensure that you know if your wife or girlfriend is having labor contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions is by timing them. Time the duration or the contractions and the time between the contractions. Surprisingly there is an app for that. You can download an app for Droid or IPhone, which will help you keep track of the duration and frequency of her contractions. Note whether the average time between the contractions is increasing. Unless otherwise directed by her physician, the rule of thumb is to call get ready to go to the hospital If the contractions last for 60 seconds, are less than five minutes apart, and these averages go on for more than an hour. At this time you should contact the doctors for further guidance.
If the contractions are being felt before 37 weeks, it is important that you pay close attention to the severity and consistency of the contractions. If the contractions become more rhythmic, frequent or painful these may be signs of preterm labor. She might start having menstrual like pains, vaginal bleeding or spotting, or have any change in the level or color of the vaginal discharge. She might feel pressure in the cervix and back pain unlike what she felt before. These are all signs of preterm labor and you should contact her doctor immediately. I do not provide this information as a replacement to medical advice, simply as a way to make you aware of what questions to ask and what signs to look for. You should discuss everything you read with you doctor, as every case is unique.