If you’re a first-time mom, you’re probably wondering what labour will feel like and how you can recognise it when it starts. So here’s a guide to the different types of contractions and the right moment to go to the hospital.
Contractions are reactions in your body telling you it’s time for your baby to come out. Learn about the types of contractions, what they mean and when it’s time to give birth.
Contractions are your muscles (at the top of your womb) pushing your baby downwards towards the birth canal. During a contraction, your womb tightens and then relaxes. You may have already felt contractions, particularly towards the end of your pregnancy. As labour gets more intense, your contractions tend to last longer, feel stronger and more frequent.
Contractions can feel different to every woman. Contractions can sometimes feel like a stronger version of period pain. They can be described as cramping or a tightening sensation that starts in the lower back and will often move in a wave-like motion towards the abdomen. During a contraction, the abdomen becomes hard to the touch. As labour progresses, the contractions will last longer, with frequent pains. These pains will peak just before the contractions, and ease off before starting again.
There are 3 types of contractions, and experiencing them doesn’t always mean you’re about to give birth. Make sure you report any contractions you feel to your doctor so that she can determine the cause.These can occur any time after the middle of your pregnancy, or maybe not at all:
In true labour (please see number 3), the contractions feel stronger as they progress. Braxton Hicks do not. Braxton Hicks contractions might help to prepare your cervix, but don’t actually cause cervical dilation or effacement, which do happen during labour.
You’ll know you are experiencing labour contractions if:
Depending on your doctor, you might be told to go to the hospital, or wait. Usually, frequency, intensity and regularity of contractions determine whether you’re in labour or not.
It depends on your stage of labour:
Get week-by-week updates on your baby’s development and your pregnancy. Receive expert advice, postal packs for your stage and much more
When was the first day of your last
RESULT Estimated due date (40 week full term)
Our team of experts is ready to answer your questions and support you on your journey from pregnancy to toddler hood. For more information and relevant advice, please contact us between 9am-6pm from Sunday to Friday.