10 Things You Should Do When Contractions Start

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Do you know what to do when it finally happens?

Picture this. Your abdomen hardens, and you feel some discomfort in your pelvis. You also experience wave-like motion in your uterus. You try to relax. You take deep breathes. You change your position several times. However, the sensation doesn’t stop.

All that muscle and tissue tensing and clenching are building up. The rhythmic sensation has become more regular.

With the physical symptoms also comes a wide range of emotions. Nervousness, anxiety, uncertainty. But most of all, excitement.

The time has arrived. This is it finally.

It is the start of your labor. You will finally see your baby.

Do you know what to do when contractions start?

You probably heard stories about giving birth in unexpected places. Babies arriving while the mom is in the bathroom. Or while on the way to the hospital.

But these incidents are the exception. So you have nothing to worry these from happening when it’s your time.

When your contractions occur, the first thing you need to do is to stay calm. It’s not uncommon, and you will have plenty of time to have a safe and healthy delivery at a proper medical or birthing facility.

Here’s a quick checklist of what to do when you have contractions.

  • You need to call your partner or someone close within your family or group of friends. Let these people know that you believe your labor has started.
  • Try to keep a record of how long each contraction lasts and the period in between episodes. If you have your phone, access the timer function for this purpose. Then jot down the information.
  • If you are not sure if this is labor, call your doctor, midwife, or healthcare provider for advice.
  • Planning to have a home birth? Contact your midwife about your labor contraction.
  • Do you have other kids that need adult supervision? If you have made arrangements with a babysitter, let him or her know that you believe you are in labor.
  • You should have everything you need packed and ready before making the trip to the hospital or birthing facility. This includes your notes and other information that you need to show to your doctor, midwife, or healthcare provider.
  • Most importantly, don’t panic. Always try to stay calm. Relax. Everything is going to be all right.

What to expect when early labor sets in?

Have you attended a childbirth class?

One of the important things they will tell you in these classes is managing your expectations. That way, you will have some idea on what to do when you’re in labor.

Let’s talk about early labor. 

Did you know early labor is the longest stretch of labor? However, it is also the least intense.

What is it and what to expect when this occurs?

This happens when your cervix changes its position and starts to soften, preparing to dilate. When the dilation of your cervix is between zero and four centimeters, this may indicate that you are in early labor.

The contractions that you will be experiencing during early labor will have a duration of less than a minute. These episodes will also be spaced apart by over five minutes. All in all, this may last for several hours, potentially going on and off.

If you’re a first-time mom, expect an early labor experience that can last from six to 12 hours. The period, however, decreases if you’ve had a baby before.

What happens when you have a contraction?

Wondering what early labor feels like?

Imagine getting lower back pain coupled with aches in the lower part of your tummy. These sensations may also be accompanied low-intensity contractions with discomfort similar to having menstrual cramps or gas pain.

Is it a true labor contraction or just Braxton Hicks?

Our body is an amazing thing. It lets you prepare for the real deal. Case in point: Braxton Hicks contractions.

Did you know your body will get your ready for the true labor contractions by having you experience false labor pains?

Braxton Hicks contractions are not a sign of actual labor. Rather, it is your body’s way of telling you this is the sensation you can expect when the real thing happens.

Wondering what Braxton Hicks contractions feel like?

Imagine mild menstrual cramps. Add to that is the feeling of having a tight abdomen, which comes and goes.

Braxton Hicks contractions do not open the cervix or cause labor, no matter how uncomfortable they may be.

Here are some of the characteristics of Braxton Hicks contractions.

  • They are generally not painful, causing only some discomfort.
  • They don’t occur at regular intervals or occur close to each other.
  • You get relief from it by changing your position.
  • They don’t feel stronger over time.
  • You may feel them as early as your second trimester.

Braxton Hicks contractions are normal, so you don’t have to worry about them.

If you want to stop them because they are making you feel uncomfortable, you can do that following:

  • Get up and move or take a walk.
  • You can rest it off when you have been physically active when it occurred.
  • Take some shut-eye.
  • Treat yourself to a massage from time to time.
  • Relax.

Is it a true labor contraction or round ligament pain?

Do you feel sharp, stabbing pain on the side of your abdomen?

If the pain occurs only when you stand up or roll over and lasts only for a couple of seconds or minutes, this isn’t a true labor contraction. What you’re experiencing may be round ligament pain.

This type of pain may also be triggered by coughing, sneezing, and urinating.

So how does round ligament pain happen?

The pain springs from the connective tissues that hold your uterus to the pelvis. As your uterus expands, it stretches; thus, causing the sensation. In some cases, the pain will radiate into your groin.

To relieve the discomfort, you can change your position. If you’re pursuing a physical activity when this happens, stop and take a rest.

When lying, try to support your abdomen when you roll over or stand up. If you feel some discomfort, move slowly as you perform your desired action.

So how does a true labor contraction feel?

To determine your appropriate reaction to the sensation you’re feeling, you need to distinguish which one is true and which one is false.

True labor contractions occur in regular intervals, lasting around 30 to 70 seconds per episode. The interval gets closer, and the sensation gets stronger over time. On the other hand, false contractions occur at irregular intervals.

When you move, true contractions will continue. You cannot obtain relief by shifting your position or through rest. False contractions cease when you rest or change positions.

False contractions are generally weak, unlike true contractions.

The location of the pain may also indicate whether it is true or false.

In true contractions, the pain or discomfort may start in the lower back area then radiate to the front of the abdomen or vice versa. False contractions can only start in the front of the abdomen and/or pelvic area.

When should you call a doctor or healthcare provider?

During your pregnancy, you can expect a lot of symptoms and sensations occurring in your body.

If you are not sure if what you’re experiencing is labor, give your doctor or healthcare provider a call.

You should also call your doctor or healthcare provider ASAP under these circumstances:

  • If you are experiencing vaginal bleeding
  • If your water breaks or there is continuous leaking of fluid
  • You are experiencing strong contractions every five minutes or less
  • The contractions are intense that you are not able to walk through
  • There are noticeable changes in your baby’s motion
  • You are having signs of true labor contractions at less than 37 weeks

Don’t be afraid to get in touch with them with any questions you might have regarding your situation. Feel free to discuss your concerns and ask whether or not your contractions are signs of true labor.

Here are tips on what to do when having contractions.

Do you know what to do when labor starts?

Early labor contractions can feel like menstrual cramps or gas pain, which may be accompanied by low back pain. Check out our post to learn more about back labor if you suspect you are experiencing that. 

Now, some women may notice the sensation immediately; others may only become aware of them until they are in labor. Both are normal, and it’s OK if you miss the early symptoms.

So what do you do when you start having these sensations?

Imagine you’re just going about your day when you start feeling the pain in your lower back area. Then came the sensation of gas pain or menstrual cramps.

Here are practical tips on what to do during contractions.

Relax

Your first reaction when you start feeling the contractions is to relax. Lay on the couch and breathe easy. You might want to time your contractions and jot down this information so you can share it with your doctor or healthcare provider.

If you feel doing it, you can walk around the house at a relaxed pace.

Wondering how to keep labor contractions going?

Avoid the weightlessness of being submerged in the tub or pool. It can slow down your labor

If you want to experience the relief that water provides, hop in the shower for a soothing release from the distress or anxiety.

Want to know what to do during contractions at night?

Try to get back to sleep. This may seem easier said than done but save your strength. Rest and prepare for the wonderful things to come.

What to do when having contractions in a public place?

Don’t panic. Just remember this is normal, and everything is going to be all right.

Grab your phone and call your loved ones. You can sit down for a while or continue doing about what you were doing.

The important thing is that you remain calm and relaxed throughout this ordeal. It’s nothing to be worried about.

Find a distraction.

Do you find it hard to relax?

Sometimes, the key to taking it easy is to distract yourself from the pressing matter. Get preoccupied with something.

Find anything that can help keep your mind off what’s going on. Focus on other things.

You can turn on the TV or open Netflix to watch a movie. Or you can keep your hands busy by preparing some snacks that you’re going to bring to the hospital or birthing center. Perhaps go on a leisure walk in the garden or around your home.

There may be some last-minute things that you need to do before heading to the birthing facility. So you can use this time to get it done to keep your mind off the contractions.

Just remember to keep it easy. Relax and conserve your energy.

Grab a light snack and stay hydrated.

Did you know a light healthy snack and proper hydration contributes to a shorter labor time by as much as 90 minutes?

Focus on your nutrition. Carbs are a good choice to give you the energy you need. But if you feel they’re too heavy for you, you can go for granola, protein bar, or fruit.

A big no-no would be spicy food; it might trigger diarrhea during labor. Take caution on greasy or fried food as well.

Would you believe dehydration is one of the main causes of having an ineffective contraction?

You should also strive to drink enough to avoid dehydration during your labor.

Take your time and stay at home.

What if you’re at home and alone when the contractions occurred?

Take your time and relax. Give your partner, family, or close friends a call. Inform them that your situation.

Don’t believe everything you see in the movies. You don’t have to rush to the hospital when your water breaks (unless you’re suffering from an infection or the baby’s cord is coming out).

There are benefits to staying at home as you wait for your loved ones to arrive.

It is a familiar place, and you know you and your baby will be safe. So you get a better experience at home even if you’re alone and unassisted.

If you feel concerned or unsafe about your condition, that’s the time you head to the hospital. Otherwise, home is the best place to be.

Pack a ready-to-go bag.

Hopefully, you should have a ready-to-go bag packed. So when you need to go to the hospital, you just pick it up and head out the door. Check out our post to learn more on what to pack in your hospital bag.

Keep calm. Always.

The most important reminder of them all: relax.

There’s no use to getting panicky and alarmed. Labor contractions are normal. Just listen to your body, and stay calm at all times. That way, you can think clearer and react better to your situation.

We hope these pointers gave you an idea on what to do when contractions start.

Stay safe and keep calm always.

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