You probably won’t have difficulty knowing when you’re having contractions. What you really want to know is: “Is this it? Am I going into labour? Are these labour contractions or something else?”
If you’re currently pregnant, you’ll already be more than aware of the many changes your body undergoes as it prepares you for a healthy childbirth.
So, it should be no surprise that contractions are part and parcel of the journey.
There are a few different types of contractions. Some of them will mean you’re getting close to labour while others signify that your body is taking another step in getting ready for the big day.1 After all, the uterus is made up of three layers of muscle and it needs to be in good shape.2 Early contractions can be a sign that your uterus is exercising.1
Around four months into your pregnancy, you may experience contractions called Braxton-Hicks, named after the gentleman who first described them back in 1872.2,3
Braxton-Hicks contractions are often referred to as ‘false labour’. They are usually infrequent and irregular (quite different to true labour). These types of contractions are also:3
Importantly, however, they don’t get stronger or last longer or occur closer together – that’s what happens in ‘real’ labour.3
You may get these contractions when you’re tired, dehydrated, or spending too much time on your feet.3
So, make sure you stay hydrated and don’t overdo it physically. You might also like to treat yourself to a warm bath, hot water bottle or a heat pack. (Check out the Hotteeze Heat Pads here)*.
A TensCare perfect mamaTENS machine may also help relieve the discomfort. TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation which sounds scary, but it simply involves applying some pads to your lower back and sending small electrical pulses that harness your body’s natural pain mechanisms to provide relief. You’ll also find it useful later in pregnancy for the back pain that often accompanies carrying around that extra person.6
As we mentioned above, once true labour contractions begin, they’re quite different to Braxton-Hicks. They continue to grow longer, stronger, and come closer together as they try to dilate the cervix in readiness for birth.3
The contractions usually start out as mild, and the tightening feeling lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds.
True contractions also come at regular intervals, but that interval decreases, starting out around 15 to 20 minutes, but reducing to 5 minute intervals at the end of early labour, then even closer (2-3 minutes apart) just prior to birth.7
Every woman is different. It’s probably fair to suggest there is no such thing as a textbook pregnancy or birth. But if you experience contractions that don’t follow the pattern above, always check with your doctor or health care professional.
*Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Do not stick directly on skin.
~Your health professional will advise you whether this product is suitable for you. Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Do not use with any electronic medical devices e.g. pacemakers; prior to last 3 weeks of pregnancy; or on the abdomen at any stage of the pregnancy.