How are they, when do they start and how long do labor contractions last?
Labor contractions are very regular, they are repeated every 2 or 3 minutes and can last between 90 and 120 seconds. But you have to be clear that:
- Labor contractions do not give up at rest
- The pain increases in intensity as time goes by
- They remain regular for hours
- They produce dilation in the cervix and are usually accompanied by expulsion of vaginal mucus with some blood
How to differentiate labor contractions from Braxton Hicks contractions?
As explained by the American Pregnancy Association, Braxton Hicks contractions can begin even in the second trimester of pregnancy, although these are usually experienced in the third.
When Braxton Hicks contractions occur, the muscles of the uterus tend to contract. These usually last between 30 and 60 seconds and, sometimes, even up to two minutes.
These, moreover, are described as contractions of irregular intensity, infrequent, unpredictable, non-rhythmic, more uncomfortable than painful and which, moreover, neither increase in intensity nor frequency. They also shrink and disappear completely.
Braxton Hicks contractions are usually mild contractions that result in a slight tightness in the abdomen of the pregnant woman. As a general rule, non-labor contractions usually occur in the afternoon or evening, after having performed some recommended physical activity for pregnant women, or after having had sex. These contractions also tend to become stronger as the time of the early onset of labor approaches.
When to go to the hospital if you have labor contractions?
There is no doubt that one of the things that most concern pregnant women as the end of the last trimester of pregnancy approaches is the time of delivery. When will I have to go to the hospital?
There are many first-time moms who are not aware until the moment of delivery arrives for the possible endless hours in the hospital that await them, nor for the patience, they should have. But it is something that they will have to accept yes or yes, since going to the hospital and staying calm never hurts.
As a general rule, the onset of labor usually begins between week 36 and week 40 of pregnancy. At first, the future mother will begin to have a series of contractions that will not be painful but rather will be contractions in which the gut begins to get somewhat hard, although then she will slowly relax.
These contractions are known as the contractions of Braxton Hicks, which is actually a period of preparation for childbirth, but that does not mean that from one day to the next the mother will go into labor, but simply that her body has to gradually adapt.
This is, without a doubt, one of the moments in which the woman will surely want to go to the hospital, and will be quite nervous and even somewhat scared.
However, in the vast majority of cases, it will not be necessary to go because these are contractions that will sooner or later give way to rest. The best thing in these cases will, therefore, be to stay at home and let the body get ready little by little. This could last between days or weeks so, although it is quite common to go to the emergency room for fear of something going wrong, it is not really necessary.
In addition, in that case, the only thing that doctors will do will be a control in which they may see that the future mother has not dilated anything yet, that the contractions are still very irregular, and that they end up sending her home again.
Of course, remember that if the contractions are rhythmic and regular, they are also increasingly long and annoying, although they do not hurt much, it is indeed labor contractions.
Future moms will also notice that the gut becomes hard, tense and that seconds later it relaxes, although uterine dilation is also going to progress, which is something that can also be verified by vaginal examinations.
How often should vaginal exams be done?
It is essential to perform serial vaginal exams throughout labor to assess how the cervix is modified, not only in its dilation but also to assess its erasure, consistency, and position.
On some occasions, these scans could be annoying and even somewhat painful because the cervix can be found at a much later position at the bottom of the vagina. In most cases, in addition, the vaginal touches are painful because the pregnant woman tends to tense and contracts the buttocks and pelvic floor muscles that surround the vulva.
It is important, therefore, to leave the muscles of the perineum loose and practice Kegel exercises while maintaining the tension of the pelvic floor muscle for a few seconds and then slowly relaxing. In addition, as the labor passes the cervix is centered and the touches will be much less bothersome.
The Kegel exercises were invented in 1940 by Dr. Arnold Kegel, American sexologist in order to improve the tone of the pelvic floor and the muscles. Women who have had one or more vaginal births, upon reaching the menopause phase due to the decrease in estrogen, have atrophy of the bladder wall and urethra, which also causes some urinary incontinence problems.
Kegel exercises help keep this from happening. In addition, its benefits will be seen approximately two months after starting to practice them, although the idea is to start doing them during pregnancy because they facilitate natural childbirth, since as they say from the American Pregnancy Association, “the strengthening of these muscles during pregnancy it can help develop the ability to control your muscles during childbirth. ”