Am I really in labor? This is the most common question that expectant mothers usually ask themselves when they are nearing the term of their pregnancy. True and false labor pains usually cause a lot of confusion, especially among first time moms. False alarms are common scenarios in the emergency room, where after proper examination, an expectant mother is asked to go home, because she only experienced Braxton hicks contractions or false labor contractions.
Each woman may feel contractions differently and it can also differ from one pregnancy to the next. It is frightening for some women because contractions are involuntary, and they also occur without warning. However, a woman can overcome these feelings once she realizes that she can predict the pattern of true labor and control to some degree the discomfort.
False labor contractions usually begin and remain irregular. The contractions also do not increase in frequency, duration and intensity. It is also first felt in the abdomen and remains confined to the abdomen and groin area. False labor contractions differ greatly to true labor contractions because the symptoms usually disappear through ambulation and sleep. With false labor contractions, a woman may experience a strong onset of contractions that go weak afterwards. And although it still causes pain, this form of contraction does not lead to cervical dilatation or the opening of the cervix.
True labor contractions on the other hand begin irregularly but they become regular and predictable over time. It is first felt in the lower back and it tends to sweep around the abdomen in waves. There is also notable increase in the duration, frequency and intensity of the contractions. It can come in regular intervals that can last from 30 seconds, to a full minute. True labor contractions cannot also be relieved through positioning, or any type of activity. A woman may feel that her contractions are getting too close together, and she may also notice that it lasts longer. The intensity of the pain is also expected to increase and at this stage, coping measures like breathing techniques are very helpful.
A good tip is to record your contractions. By doing so, you are able to evaluate properly the progress in terms of time intervals, the length of contractions and your level of discomfort. Be mindful as well of the other symptoms that accompany true labor like slight bleeding or a fluid leak. However, never hesitate to call your doctor if you think you might have true labor pains. Monitoring your signs may be good but it is only through proper examination that you can surely gauge how far you are in terms of giving birth.
A woman goes through a lot of emotional and physical stress during labor. And although false alarms may be common, she needs to have full sympathetic support during this trying time. A lot of coping measures are taught early on during the pregnancy, but nothing really prepares her better but the onset of labor itself.
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