How do I know if its a real contraction?

Sommano - posted on 10/29/2009 ( 28 moms have responded )

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My due date is Nov 8. On monday, I went to my doctor, she checked me and I'm already 4cm dilated... but I haven't been feeling any contractions or anything.... she said when the top of my belly gets hard sometimes, that is a contraction and to time it but I've noticed that the top of my belly is constantly hard... I thought it would feel like I'm cramping, from my lower back and the pain would move towards the front and then all over my belly. Is there other ways to tell if its a contraction?

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Elizabeth - posted on 10/30/2009

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during my pregnancy, my belly was hard most of the time too, but towards the end I was able to tell my contractions. Your whole belly will tense up and feel rock hard, not just the top of your belly. It never hurt for me, but was very uncomfortable. It would last 15-30 seconds usually.Then you can feel it release, and the sides of your belly will feel softer again. I hope this is helpful. Good luck!!:)

Shannon - posted on 10/31/2009

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contractions feel like extremely uncomfortable or should i say painful shooting pains, like the worst period cramp ever. they are consistent and last for a few seconds. if u feel something that makes u want to sit down or during them u just cant get comfortable...thats a real one!

[deleted account]

Each one of my deliveries were different, even the contractions. But you will have your stomach ( abdomen ) get hard and you can time it, they won't stop. Some people have pain, most do, and some don't have that much until later. With one I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom and felt it more in the rectum area, and with others it felt like bad period cramps. You should know though and if they don't stop you know it's not false labor, or braxton hicks. With my first, who was very early, I had bleeding, pain and called the doctor and he asked if I was having contractions and I said, " I don't know". He was a bit upset with me I think and said what did it feel like and I said like bad cramps at which point he said to get in there. Don't worry. You will know.

Jennifer - posted on 10/29/2009

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I know it's different for everybody, but for me, I was 3 cm dilated for 4 weeks! I had a lot of "contractions" (tightening of the muscles) for 4 weeks before he was born. However, those were not painful; they were sometimes strong and made me stop in my tracks...but when the real ones came - they hurt. I hated this answer when I was asking the same question...but you will definitely know when it's real.

Nyomi - posted on 06/08/2013

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Im 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant with my first baby and I'm unsure what the signs of labour are as I've been told different. I've been having irregular tightening of my stomach for 3 days where it's goes rock solid sometimes 10 mins apart then went to 3 mins apart then slowed down again and it's not an unbearable pain just uncomfortable I can still walk around etc. and then this morning I was woke up because I felt a trickle of fluid and it was clear but it wasn't loads. I've also got bad lower back pain and got a cramping feeling three times over two days in my lower left abdomen but that's all. Does anyone know if these are signs? Thankyou :)

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Jody - posted on 10/29/2009

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I am always wondering the same thing. I have noticed by touch that sometimes my tummy is harder than other times. But still what does a contraction feel like? I don't know that I have ever had a braxton hicks either....

Regina - posted on 10/29/2009

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You got it.... belive me as they get closer...the cramping will get stronger . Menstral camps with shot pauses inbetween .

GOOD LUCK,....

REGINA ..MOM OF 14yr AND 4yr old.

Pam - posted on 10/29/2009

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holy lots of information here lol and some very scary once in a million experiences too. Well I'll tell you, this is your first baby otherwise you wouldn't even ask the question. Everyone's experience is totally different, and you have to be optimistic and calm to make yours as pleasant as possible. I shopped for the first few days of contractions and did as much as possible because after you go through the contractions and birth, your journey is just beginning. If you plan to breast feed which I hope you do, you'll have to learn how to breast feed skin to skin, and skin to skin is great for helping your newborn to regulate his/her temperature. So a great recommendation is to get as much rest as possible even if it gets painful. As a general warning, there will be a time when it gets too painful to sleep. So sleep now! and if you decide to get some shopping done, it'll be good for walking and inducing, just bring some sanitizer because the last thing you want is to be sick and giving birth. Okay, so first babies take much longer to come out than second babies, and they tell you when your 5 min apart, straight, no playing, go to the hospital, they may send you back home though. Make sure your not leaking liquids because it could force you to have a cesarean if you too dry, and also risk the babies health. I was leaking and no one detected it till last min, but I still had a normal vaginal delivery. My friend on the other hand was not so lucky and had to be rushed to emerg and had a cesarean. The difference here is I had back labor and she turned as she came out, so the whole time it was very painful leg tingling shots of paaain. If your one of the lucky girls who is not having the dreaded back labor of love, or breach birth then you'll feel a lot less pain. Time it, write it down, and keep it for future memories, and have your hospital bag and baby bag ready. Get plenty of fluids & rest, and if your like me, shop till you drop, because you wont be able to for another 6 months when they can last longer in between feeds.

Alicia - posted on 10/29/2009

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Your belly will get tight, but then when the contraction is over it will go back to normal. I wouldn't stress too much about it. You will know when you are in labor! Just relax, your baby will come when he/she is ready. You can continue dilating for weeks before you actually go into labor.

[deleted account]

You can have contractions without actually feeling them, especially those once before labor actually starts. I had times where my belly felt hard top to bottom, but I didn't actually feel it happening. Even shortly after my water broke and they hooked me up to a monitor, the nurses would tell me I was having a contraction, but I couldn't tell. But once labor got going.... oh, then I could definitely feel them, and there was no mistaking them for something else! Don't worry about them not hurting now - just enjoy it. :)

DEBORA - posted on 10/29/2009

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IF YOUR NOT HEADED TO HOSPITAL I WOULD GO SINCE THEY CAN MONITOR THINGS FOR YOU ,SINCE WHEN MY MOTHER IN LAWS LITTLE SISTER WAS BORN HER MOTHER BLED TO DEATH IN HER HOME .TO MANY THINGS CAN GO WRONG TO STAY HOME IF YOU WANT YOU CAN EVEN GET ER SERVICES TO PICK YOU UP SINCE THEY HAVE MONITORING SYSTEMS BETTER TO HAVE BABBY IN AMBALANCE THAN OUT IN A PARKING LOT. ITS`S NOW 12:08 HERE SO THAT IS 6 HRS FROM YOUR POST.

Elaine - posted on 10/29/2009

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Oh honey, you'll know when they come on - there is no mistaking a contraction when one hits. It will take your breath away - literally! You are so lucky to not have Braxton-Hicks earlier on, but when the contractions come your whole belly will become rock hard, and then as they progress you may get some pretty serious cramping on your back. If you have back labor, then even worse cramping. Good luck, it is the toughest experience ever, but so worth the pain when you're holding your little baby in your arms. And remember it is just one day of your life and it will be over...Congratulations!

Anna - posted on 10/29/2009

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I hate to say this, but you'll know when you're having contractions that count. Also keep in mind that going to the hospital too soon (before you're really in labor) can lead to unwanted medical interventions. Doctors sometimes figure since you're already there, they'll go ahead and induce, which can lead to more intervention later in labor. Hang in there girl, you're baby WILL come. Enjoy these last few days before your life changes forever!

Tina - posted on 10/29/2009

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You will know if they are contractions worth going into the hospital there are two kinds there is the back kind and then the ones you get in the belly but when you are ready you will know

Jennifer - posted on 10/29/2009

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I am going to be completely honest here and tell you that if you haven't already headed in to the hospital, you should go now. With both my daughter (12) and my twins (9 months), I had no painful contractions until my water broke, and by then it was too late. Luckily I went straight to the hospital with my daughter when I lost my mucous plug...my contractions were already 1 1/2 minutes apart and I had no idea. I had no pain. When my water finally broke, she was pretty much on her way out. With my twins, I was already in the hospital on forced bed rest, as I had complications. When they finally decided they were coming, the doctor was checking me and I dilated from 1 to 5 to 10 while she was checking me, my water broke, and out popped a foot. No pain involved. I had been sleeping and woke up because the alarm on one of the machines in the next room had gone off and happened to notice that there was blood on my sheets (I had lost my mucous plug in my sleep).

My point here is NOT to scare you, but to let you know that labor is different for every woman, and you may not experience a large amount of pain during labor. If you are concerned in any way, it is best to go in and be seen....don't wait. Better to be safe than to have your baby in your car on the way to the hospital.

Elizabeth - posted on 10/29/2009

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Hey there.... I suffered alot with Braxton hicks contractions with all 4 of my children... i found if your having contractions they feel just the same as the real ones... i found that if you have a lovely warm relaxing bath... the braxton hicks will stop after a time... the real ones will be more comfortable till you get out the bath... but will then get stronger..... hope this helps you too.. Liz x

Carissa - posted on 10/29/2009

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This is my Birthday. Contractions come in all different forms with my first I was having contractions and didn't even know it. Your belly will become hard and tight at the same time. The contractions your having is so mild you don't even know,but believe me when they intensify you will know. You generally won't feel a contraction in your back until they are intense.

Sammy - posted on 10/29/2009

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Trust ur instincts! Alot of people say your whole belly go's hard, that u won't be able to talk or walk while having a contraction...but my belly did not go hard and I could still talk and walk while having a contraction!
I didn't have any pain until 4 hrs after my waters broke and I went up to the hospital, they sent me home and told me that I was not in labour and that I would not be back at the hospital for another 2 days...I was back at the hospital 5hrs later, they still did not believe me that I was in labour, my daughter was born 55 minutes after we arrived at the hospital the second time!
So trust your body and what it is telling you!
Good luck and remember to breathe =)

Gin - posted on 10/29/2009

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Some say that when you can no longer walk through the pain, that that is a real contraction. However, some women don't feel it as much. Don't feel bad. remember we (the ones who feel it)are envious. Just don't take any baths right now. Take only showers so that if your water pops, then you will know thats its time to go in.

Andrea - posted on 10/29/2009

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Please be careful of water that is too hot. Also All contractions count. YOu need to count the big ones and the small ones to know how far apart they are. You can have a strong contraction and have a weak one right after. I had that pattern right up to delivery. If you are ging to walk please make sure you get rest also. you dont know how long your labor will be and you need energy to walk then and get through the pushing especially if you are giong natural. Good luck to you and keep in touch with your body. Remember we were made to do this.

[deleted account]

well, i'm sure by now you know by now that contractions feel like poopie pains. if they are braxton hicks, they will go away if you get up and change the activity. If you are laying down, get up, walk around.. go take a shower. If you are walking around and get one, lay down, feel for more... you will see they have stopped. when it "TIME"... they wont stop... no matter what you do, or where you go. Listen to your body. You WILL know when its time, I promise :)

Janneke - posted on 10/29/2009

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when those contractions really start u will know. ! i went into hospital on my due date was lucky i was happily eating my tea at 7 pm having just the normal braxton hicks contractions which were just like cramps but got the point where it was more painfull i had the show and with it being my first i went into panick mode and thought that waters was leaking. got to the hospital at 10 she tried to send me home as i was only 2 cms but i couldn't physically walk .i was in so much pain. i got a hot bath at the hospital crawled out and after crying for any pain relief when she brought it i was ready to push!. the pain came on in an hour before she was born. so i would say listen to ure body. and when those pains really start get ureself to hospital or u may have a hopme birth lol which one of my friends nearly did,. she got sent home 10 mins later came back and was on her hands and knees in the carpark.

[deleted account]

the contractions keep coming - you may question the first few ones, but as they start to come more regularly; you will know! good luck!

Lesley - posted on 10/29/2009

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Hi Sommano,



I know how you feel - I went into be induced with my first baby only to be told that I was having contractions 5 minutes apart and I was 3cm dialated! For me it just felt like my baby was moving. I know this doesn't really help you tell how you can tell you're having a contraction - I'm just glad I'm not the only person out there who has been oblivious to the fact they are in labour! But when it came to the business end of things, I definetly DID feel them! Good luck!

Jackie - posted on 10/29/2009

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Hop in a hot bath... soak your belly for 20 minutes. It needs to be so hot you can barely stand it and you belly needs to be complete covered which might mean laying on your side or on all 4s. This will stop any false labour and bring on real labour. But you are 4 cms dilated you are already in labour. After your bath you need to get up and get walking. I don't mean a 20 minute stroll I mean you need to walk and walk and walk until you can't stand it any more. Take a 10 minute break and then get back to walking. I would definately time the unpainful contractions. You may have a high pain tolerance and might be ignoring good contractions. When your water breaks it will change everything and it wouldn't be a bad idea to go to the hospital/doctors and get examined right away since you are so dilated. Another good question is are you having back pain? It is like an ache in your lower back and it will come and go... that IS a contraction. Good luck and soon you will be holding your beautiful baby in your arms! :)

Jayde - posted on 10/29/2009

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hey darlz .. u shuld try and like get up and walk around cuz i think that real contractions get stronger and harder when you walk around .. and wen they start getting regular and longer or you feel like they are in a pattern .. then start timing them and call the hospital :)

Nicole - posted on 10/29/2009

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Contractions make your entire belly get hard. When u time them, time from the start to end of the pain with the tightness and that is how long they are, then time from the start of one to the start of the next and that is how far apart they are. Contractions that are painful to the point that u can't even talk during them are the ones that matter. usually it is recommended that u go to the hospital when they are 5 minutes apart or less lasting around a minute. I hope this is helpful! :)

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