Is THIS Labor?
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or fourth baby, almost every pregnant person has asked the question, “Am I Really In Labor, or are these practice contractions”? Practice contractions are known as Braxton Hicks. If your water has not broken but you are having “period like” cramps or a low, dull backache and believe you may be in labor, use this trick we doulas use! Try to stop your contractions. You can stop practice contractions, but you can not stop labor contractions. If you can get them to slow and eventually stop, you’re not really in labor. Your uterus is just getting ready for the big day and if they don’t stop, you may be a little closer to meeting your baby!
How To Get Your Practice Contractions To Stop
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It is very common to have contractions when your body is dehydrated. Remember your blood volume goes up a whopping 50% during pregnancy, this means you need to drink more fluids. This is the number one rule. Hydrate!
Do the opposite thing you were doing.
Were you taking a nice stroll around your neighborhood when you started having contractions? Well, go home, grab a nice big glass of water, and pop in a movie! Or, were you snuggled with your bestie and binge-watching that show when labor pains started? Well, then it’s time to get up and take a walk or even take a shower or do some light house work.
Take a nice relaxing bath.
Light some candles, turn on some tunes and have yourself a relaxing bath. Bring a drink.. remember rule #1
Meditate and time your contractions.
Always stay as relaxed as possible, remember labor is not an emergency. Go to a quiet place, play your favorite music, lie down in your bed, try to nap. When you get settled, time your contractions for for about an hour. You can time them with your phone’s timer or download an app that will make timing them super simple. If your contractions are still consistent and have not stopped after these steps, you are most likely in early labor. Now is a great time to have a light meal or snack and get some much-needed rest, and don’t forget to hydrate.
When To Go To Your Hospital Or Birth Center
If your contractions are consistent, time them to see how far apart each contraction is and how long they last. Most doctors follow the 5-1-1 or 4-1-1 rule, this means your contractions are 5 minutes apart, last 1 minute or longer (no less than 1 minute), and this pattern has lasted for at least 1 hour. Ask your doctor or midwife what their preference is for your contractions and how far apart they want them to be before you head for your hospital or birth center. In most cases, if your contractions are at 5-1-1 or 4-1-1, it is time for you to call your care provider, grab your birth bag, and get going.
Angela KommerOwner of Downtown Doula of Omaha
Certified Birth Doula & Infant Feeding Specialist