Some of the mysteries surrounding pregnancy concern contractions. When they occur, many pregnant women wonder if something is wrong with the baby or if they are going into labor ahead of schedule. Naturally, this causes some anxiety. However, a little knowledge about contractions can help you to know when to call your doctor and when to just relax. Here are seven things you should know about contractions during pregnancy.
They can start earlier than you expect
Women often expect contractions to start towards the end of their pregnancy. However, they can occur earlier. You may even feel them during the first trimester but it doesn’t mean you’re going into labor. Dehydration, gas pains or ligament stretching may be responsible and these contractions are usually nothing to worry about. However, if you notice bleeding, call your doctor.
They may be false
Not all contractions are the same. The ones which indicate you’re going into labor will be regular. However, false contractions have an irregular pattern and they may stop if you change to a different position. These are called Braxton-Hicks contractions and they are mild although they intensify as you get closer to your due date. That’s why you need to find out how to time contractions. This will help you to determine whether your baby is ready to enter the world or not.
Persistent contractions don’t mean you’re going into labor
Frequent regular contractions may mean you have what is known as an irritable uterus. This may be the case if you don’t find relief from rest or hydration. This condition may make you uncomfortable but it isn’t necessarily harmful to you or your baby. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 18.7 percent of women with an irritable uterus went into preterm labor compared to 11 percent of women who didn’t have the condition.
Contractions may indicate dehydration
Sometimes your body may be telling you you need more water. If you’re experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, try having a large glass of water. That is often enough to settle things down.
They can be a sign something is wrong
Many contractions are perfectly normal and merely a sign of false labor. However, some can stick around. Regular contractions before you reach 37 weeks are an indication on pre-term labor. If you notice regular contractions early in your pregnancy, arrange to see your doctor.
They can be in your back.
Thought all contractions are felt in your stomach? Think again. The pain can occur in your back. This tends to happen when the baby is facing your stomach. If you’re getting back cramps, it may not be because you slept badly. You may just be experiencing another contraction.
Contractions play an important role
They may be annoying and painful but contractions have a critical role to play in each part of the labor process. Contractions open the cervix, push the baby through the birth canal and free the placenta. These functions all need to take place so both you and your baby are healthy.
Contractions are a normal part of pregnancy. However, if they are excruciating, occurring regularly, getting more painful or accompanied by bleeding, you need to call your doctor. No matter the situation, try to stay as calm as possible when you feel those cramps.