How to Tell if You Have Early Labor Pains

by Ling Tong - Date: 2008-10-01 - Word Count: 508 Share This!

When you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, you will likely have many aches and pains and you think that each one is the beginning of labor. Some early labor pains are not labor at all, but false labor, which is called Braxton-Hicks contractions. They do start off in the same way as labor pains in that they feel like hard menstrual cramps, but they do not intensify and eventually stop. The early signs of labor vary from one woman to another, but most report that they do have crampy pains very similar to menstrual cramps that do start to get more painful and closer together.


During labor, the muscles of the womb start to contract to push the baby through the birth canal. They start in the upper portion of the uterus causing this part of the uterus to become tight and thicker. Generally, women report the feeling of a dull aching pain in their lower back and say they do not even realize it is the start of labor because they have no pain in their stomach. It is also possible to have aches and pains in your sides or even your thighs. The contractions occur in waves and could be 10 or 15 minutes apart at first, which is why many women don't even realize that this is what they have been waiting for. Even in early labor, if you place your hand on your stomach you will feel that it is really tight and tense.


The contractions occur and then you have a period of relief from the pain. In order to time the period between contractions, you start timing when the contraction stops and stop when another contraction begins. If you are truly in the early stages of labour, this time period will become shorter and shorter. You can also time the duration of the contraction to see how long it lasts. As the space between the contractions decrease, the duration of the contractions increase.


Doctors will tell you that when you find your contractions lasting for one minute and occurring five minutes apart, then it is time for you to call your doctor and to go to the hospital. Your water may or may not have broken and you probably didn't notice that the mucous plug has been released from the cervix. However these are questions that you doctor will ask. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the hospital, but if you are a new mother you can probably delay this until the contractions become so intense that you find it difficult to breathe through them.


There are stages of labor, just as there are stages of pregnancy. In the early stage, the cervix is just starting to dilate. This first stage can last for many hours until the cervix is completely dilated. First time mothers usually have a longer first stage of labor than they will with subsequent births. The second stage is much shorter and ends with the third stage, which is the birth of the baby.

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