As I near the end of my first pregnancy, with just 5 weeks to go (!!), it dawns on me that there is so much I just don’t know. Going into labour sounds like a few key steps that result in a baby a day or a few days later (hopefully). But how women go into labour can be really varied.
The antenatal classes run by the hospital tell you that you have to have contractions every five minutes, lasting 45 seconds for an hour before they want you to come in. So that sounds reasonable, but getting to that point, well how does that happen?
Two days ago, I started having ‘contractions’. I use that term loosely because I actually have no idea if it’s a contraction. I feel a pulling and tightening across my lower abdomen and sometimes it’s uncomfortable enough to wince. Sometimes it just makes me want to stop walking/moving. Sometimes it’s barely noticeable. The more active I am, the more they appear. They are not regular, they don’t last for a similar amount of time, so what are they? Probably Braxton Hicks.
Braxton Hicks are painless, irregular uterine contractions, although some women do report feeling discomfort during them. The contractions do not become more intense, frequent or longer over time, because they are practise contractions and not labour contractions. Each contraction tends to last around 30 seconds, although can last up to two minutes. It is uncommon for women to experience more than four in an hour. (source: Belly Belly)
So all you can do is wait. Wait to see what happens. Wait to see what real labour feels like!