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Braxton-Hicks vs. labor contractions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Okay, I'm in week 38 I think. My baby has dropped and I think is fully engaged. At least that's what the midwife seemed to be saying at last week's appointment.

I'm having what seem to be many annoying Braxton-Hicks contractions. They are often accompanied by what I sometimes call the in-utero rhumba, or baby boogie-woogie, and sometimes the little creature has the hiccups! In the last day or so I've had what feel like digestive or menstrual cramps in my belly.

Please tell me, if you have done this before, how you were able to distinguish between these so-called "false labor" symptoms and the early onset of labor? I know that "false labor" is a misnomer, because many people think the B-H contractions soften the cervix, too. But anyway, I'm curious about how I'm going to know that labor has begun. The midwife said that the labor contractions start higher in the uterus and move down. I know my experience may be different from yours, but having consulted the four or five pregnancy books in the house, I'd still like more info. Thanks!
post #2 of 9
Those early "practice" contractions should go away if you lay down or take a bath.
post #3 of 9
last time I was told that braxton hicks generally don't have any particular pattern or timing to them (meaning, they don't occur at regular intervals or get closer together)

this didn't really turn out to be the case for me, I had about 3-4 weeks of unproductive contractions in nice 5 minute intervals. the big difference with The Real Thing was that it *hurt*, as in oh my god, this hurts, stop in your tracks and breathe through it kinda thing. You'll probably know when it's really happening, although early labor may not feel that way.

This being your first you'll probably have lots of time to get ready when it really starts up. At 38 weeks it's probably good that things are moving along, y'know? Keep your body moving if you can and it might speed things up.
post #4 of 9
I also had those 5 minute apart regular braxton hicks contraction for two weeks and thought I'd never know it when I was in labor, but there was no mistaking the real thing. My midwife used to say, "If you're not sure - it's probably not labor." You'll know b/c the real thing is so intense. If you can easily walk around and talk through a contraction it's probably not full on labor, or it's very early labor - when you get to the point where contraction take your full concentration and basically stop you in your tracks - that's labor.
post #5 of 9
I had lots of BH's from 20 weeks on due to recurrent bladder infections and I also did Hypnobirthing which helped incidentally to slow down and stop them (as they were effacing me). The shower thing is true, if you hop in and they go away probably you're not in labor.

The only thing I didn't like about the previous posts (sorry, no offense intended) was the implication that you had to be feeling intense pain. Then you end up sitting around waiting for the pain and convince yourself too early in the game that you're in serious pain. My goal was to get my contractions to 2 min.s apart and then i'd go in to the hospital. Even then I didn't want them checking me very often (that morning I went in for a non-stress test as I was a little overdue and I was 3cms but still irregular and I knew that I didn't want to do my laboring predominantely at the hospital).

For instance I had a friend who didn't know if she was in labor b/c her contractions kept stopping and going and she went into the bath and had her husband do counter-pressure by pushing on her back and she went in for her regular appointment and discovered that she was 8cm dialated. So don't wait around for the pain, just go with the flow, let your body do it's thing and by the time you're in transition you'll know it.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
yeah, I have a pretty high pain threshold, that was one of the reasons that I asked the question. I know my mom didn't find her labor with me all that painful (She labored without drugs until she was fully dilated and practically through transition and THEN they gave her a spinal--they were weird back then!)

So I'm trying to figure out if the contractions are in a different part of the body, or stop when you do XYZ. What you all are writing here is very helpful. I haven't noticed if the B-H contractions go away in the shower, but I'm pretty sure this isn't early labor because the contractions all seem to be low in my belly, don't start high enough or extend into my back.

I saw my midwife today and had a "curiosity" pelvic exam. My mucus plug is still in so I figured I wasn't risking infection. The cervix is soft and has descended a little but is not dilated. So the "practice" contractions are actually doing something. I love that. Everything about pregnancy is so cool! I'm impatient for labor but I am also appreciating all the neat stuff I'm learning on the way.
post #7 of 9
I had tons of B-H from about 23 weeks on, especially at night. Some nights, I would have eight or ten an hour. Eventually I was put on terbutaline and ibuprofen, which reduced them but didn't stop them completely. I have read many places about how "false labor" contractions stop when you drink water, lie down on your side, take a bath, etc. But this was not my experience at all! I would lie in bed at night and contract away while hydrating the heck out of myself and taking two or three baths a night sometimes. I am now in my 34th week with my second pregnancy and although my uterus is much less irritable than last time I still have nights where I contract four or six times an hour despite all of the above measures.

With my last pregnancy, I knew I was in labor for a couple of reasons. First, the contractions did start to hurt more, although I realize this might not be true for you if you have a high pain threshold. I had to consciously relax and tell myself not to fight against them, which definitely wasn't true with the B-H. Second, I began to feel the contractions more in my back. Third, and this is a little hard to describe, I had a strong compulsion to finish some work projects I had been doing at home while on bedrest. There was no reason for me to think I was about to go into labor, since I was only at 35 weeks, but I just couldn't stop, working almost all night the night before I went into labor for real. It's as if my body just knew what was happening and I somehow picked up on it.

Just to add something else to the mix, my contractions did not become much more frequent as I moved from B-H to the real thing. I remember writing down how far apart they were and how long they were and being really confused that they weren't getting closer together (or much longer).

Good luck with your labor--Beth
post #8 of 9
I hear bh-contrax are not "all over", but in spots and not very consistent. But, they can start off doing that, then lead into the real thing.
post #9 of 9
I knew it was for real when I could'nt sleep through them. I had been having contractions for 10 days before my body finally went for it, and the morning that I could'nt go back to sleep was when I knew we were on our way.

XM
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