Am I Going Into Labor?
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Just six weeks into your pregnancy, you may experience sporadic contractions in your uterus known as Braxton Hicks contractions, named for the doctor who "discovered" them in 1872. However, it is unlikely that you'll even feel them until the middle of your pregnancy. Some women never feel them at all.
In the homestretch
In the final weeks of your pregnancy, Braxton Hicks contractions can go from being irregular and painless (more like a tightening feeling of the uterus) to almost indistinguishable from real labor contractions. So how do you know the difference?
Braxton Hicks vs. real labor contractions
The main way to determine Braxton Hicks and real labor contractions are that Braxton Hicks do not grow consistently more intense, longer or closer together as real labor contractions do. They are generally sporadic, uncomfortable but not entirely painful and may dissipate without warning. Braxton Hicks contractions also do not progress into labor as real contractions do.
Don't make the judgment
Even if you think you might just be having Braxton Hicks contractions, don't discount them, especially if you are less than 37 weeks along and are having fairly consistent and frequent sharp pains. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the safe arrival of your baby.
See your doctor
If you have not yet passed the 37-week mark and are experiencing heavy and frequent contractions as well as other symptoms such as spotting, lower back pain and an increase in vaginal discharge or mucus, call your doctor right away.
If you are past the 37-week point in your pregnancy, these symptoms may be signs of real labor. Be sure to keep track of your contractions as you near your true labor!