If you feel the muscles in your uterus tighten involuntarily, but it happens irregularly, these are Braxton-Hicks. Sometimes they’re painless, other times, they can hurt.
These contractions tend to intrude in the afternoon or nighttime and are more common after a busy day.
Most pregnancies last 37 to 42 weeks, according to the March of Dimes. Real labor contractions come regularly, tend to move from the back to the lower abdomen, and can last for as long as a minute. Over time, they become stronger and closer together.
SIGNS YOU'RE CLOSE TO LABOR
- You feel the baby lower in your belly.
- You have increased vaginal discharge, which could be clear, pink or slightly bloody.
- Your water “breaks,” meaning amniotic fluid leaks or flows from your vagina.
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR
- Your contractions are very painful, worrisome or come before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Your contractions are between five and 10 minutes apart.
- Your water breaks.
- You experience vaginal bleeding.
- You can no longer walk or talk during contractions.
- You’re worried about your health or your baby’s health.
WHY TO AVOID INDUCING LABOR
Inducing labor means to use medicine or a medical procedure that causes labor earlier than natural. Unless it’s medically necessary, it’s best to wait. Here’s why:
- Inducing labor may not work. In fact, it can double your chance of needing a Caesarean section.
- More health problems occur for babies born before 39 weeks.
- Babies born early have a higher chance of learning and behavioral problems.
- Breathing problems are more likely to develop in babies born early.