Contraction length and strength? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 04-20-2005, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm a first-time mom hoping some of you experienced mamas can help me.

Although I'm not due until April 30, I had an incident over the weekend (possible amniotic fluid leakage that turned out to be something else) that led my midwife to believe that we needed to induce naturally within 72 hrs or face a hospital birth. I leaked on Friday, had bloody show on Saturday, and experienced irregular contractions throughout the weekend and this week. (Also had bloody show again yesterday.)

Thankfully, the hosptial birth is not an issue right now. Baby and I are healthy, and we have the go-ahead to wait until active labor starts on its own. My question concerns strength of contractions and when to call the midwife.

I've read the books and talked to my midwife and know that the general guideline is to call when contractions are 5 min. apart, lasting 60 sec. or more, and strong enough that you can't walk or talk through them. (My midwife actually wants me to call when they're as far as 15-20 min. apart for the heads-up.)

However, with these irregular contractions, which have been either weak or moderately strong, I think I'm just learning to ignore them! I don't want to face the psychological ups and downs of thinking active labor has started when it hasn't (VERY stressful on me and dh after days of this), but I don't want to be foolish about waiting too long.

I can see from other people's birth stories that contraction length/strength before transition is pretty variable and not a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Any tips on making sure I don't wait too long to call?

I'd welcome any and all descriptions of the contractions you experienced and when you ended up calling.

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#2 of 5 Old 04-20-2005, 05:37 PM
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I'm going through the same thing you are w/erratic ctx for weeks now. I thought for sure I was in labor yesterday w/20 min apt ctx but I made the mistake of telling my dh when my MIL could hear and she got so excited that think I got preformance anxiety and they totally stalled out.

I'm not gonna call for heads up until my ctx are 10 mins apt and have been so for at least two hrs. If it's late at night I'll probably wait until 5 mins apt. I can't imagine that this baby is terribly small so i don't expect things to go unexpectedly fast.
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#3 of 5 Old 04-20-2005, 05:52 PM
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I was in the same place. It is SO rough! It did make for a shorter labor once active labor kicked in, so hopefully you'll have a similar experience.

What happened in my case is that I had irregular contractions for the last couple weeks of my pregnancy. Then finally, I started having them 10-20 minutes apart around 4 pm yesterday (they were coming all day but not regularly enough to time). They got closer together and increased in intensity and length all evening until I took a bath around 10:30, when they slowed. Went to bed and woke up hourly with a contraction and went to the bathroom. I think there were contractions in between that didn't fully wake me. At 3, I woke up feeling an urge to vomit, so I went and did that. Woke my DH up, called the midwife around 4:20 or so. Got in the tub at 4:45 and immediately started pushing. Baby came at 5:40.

You'll know when to call your midwife, and you'll know when it's time to get in the birthing pool if you're using one. Trust your body - it was made to birth your baby!

Good luck, and it sounds like you could go soon. Just be gentle with yourself and enjoy these last few hours/days before you're a mama.
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#4 of 5 Old 04-20-2005, 07:55 PM
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Irregular ctx daily here too

I am planning on just going based upon them getting continually, increasingly painful. My mother's contractions actually never ended up being regular, even up to the birth. I may time them after I know that I'm in labor for sure, just as a benchmark, but I'm going to call my midwife when they get too uncomfortable to not pay attention to.

Last time, I *knew* when I was in early labor, though there wasn't anything that should have told me. I called my midwife to come when I felt I couldn't handle the pain any more.
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#5 of 5 Old 04-21-2005, 08:14 AM
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Oh, I think that's a tough one! Like you said, everyone is so different!

With DD1, I didn't know I was having contractions 5 minutes apart. I went into the hospital to get checked since I was bleeding a lot (more than a period) and couldn't feel the baby move much. Everything was fine, thankfully. At that point, I just felt a little cramping. Eventually, I did have strong cx that I couldn't talk through, but all manageable. (Transition was tough.) I was in the hospital about 6 hours until DD was born.

With DD2, I felt cramping that got more intense. Since I went pretty fast last time, I called the MW when cx were 3 minutes apart. I didn't go by the length (they were about 30 sec long), but I couldn't talk/walk through them. I also went by the fact that they were 5 min apart reg and quickly went to 3 min apart (very regularly). My original plan was to stay home until transition, but I'm glad I didn't since transition was probably just 2 or 3 contractions. This time I was in the hospital for about an hour (most of it in the hallway, minus the pushing!) before DD was born.

In your case, I think I'd go by change of cx. If the cx come closer together (consistently), are stronger, are longer, (any ONE of those factors) I'd call.

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