Sunday, 8 January 2012

You're cramping my style!

So, right now, as previously mentioned, I'm a ticking time bomb, ready to pop any minute.  Just like the Pringles ad says, once you pop, you can't stop. 

Anyway.  I am trying to figure out how to distinguish Braxton Hicks Contractions [BHC] a.k.a. False Labour from the Real Deal.  In theory, it is all well and good, and I understand what they are.  Which leads to me sitting here, shaking my fist at the monitor and growl at it "Yes. I get that! But what the fuck do they feel like?!?!?!"

As you can imagine, Hugh [my laptop] said nothing. Which made me roll up my sleeves and angrily pound on my keyboard "What do Braxton Hicks feel like" in the Google search bar.

I did get quite a few hits - but no clear answer. Apparently, it is different for everyone. YAY!

Ok - allow me to take a breather and retrace my steps as some of you are probably lost.

What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks Contractions are sporadic uterine contractions.  They commence as early as of the 6th week of your pregnancy, although you probably won't start to notice them until sometime after mid-pregnancy, if you notice them at all. (Some women don't.) They get their name from John Braxton Hicks, an English doctor who first described them in 1872.

Look at them Mutton Chops! *wiggles eyebrows*

" If they occur for so long, what gives??"
I mean, it doesn't make sense, does it? Well, the thing is this... There will be a point where the BHC will stop being pretty much painless.... therefore it makes it hard to distinguish from early signs of preterm labour.

Play it safe - don't try to diagnose yourself. If you haven't hit 37 weeks yet and you're having more than four contractions in an hour — or there are more signs of preterm labour, call the hospital [if in Malta, you can call Emergency Services on 112 and ask to be connected to a midwife at Mater Dei Hospital and they should be able to do just that for you].  Alternatively, if you  think it is easier, or you'd rather take a different approach, get your arse to hospital.  It is better to have called/visited for nothing than to risk it.

By the time you reach your 38th week, your cervix will have more than likely started to "ripen" [i.e. to soften up in preparation for childbirth to occur.] Your  BHC might be getting more intense & frequent and probably make you swear a fair bit out of discomfort.  Unlike the earlier BHC, these new-and-improved BHC are probably causing your cervix thin out (efface) and maybe even open up (dilate) a bit. Congrats - you're in pre-labour.

"How on earth am I to know the difference between BHC and The Real Deal?!"
The main difference is this - BHC don't grow consistently longer, stronger, and closer together.  If you start feeling contractions that are rather painful, and regular, do something relaxing - have a bath or something. Drink a glass of water just in case it is mere dehydration that is causing them. If the pain eases up after you're done with relaxing, it means it'll have been a false alarm.  Otherwise, you'll know it is finally happening! Your minion is in the process of popping out!  Well, within the next 20+ hours or so, anyway.

Yep.  Labour can last anywhere from the standard 15 hours, but often lasting over 20 hours it seems!  Oh joy!  Before you panic, it won't be 15+ hours of "breathe breathe breathe breathe BREATHE PUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSH!!!" We're talking about the whole process here.  One which I'll delve into more detail about another time.

"I still haven't got a clue of what they feel like though..."
Yep . I know. Neither do I.  According to other people's descriptions, BHC feel like:
  • "like a muscle cramping up (like a cramp in your leg), but without the pain. They don't hurt, they just feel a bit uncomfortable. Later in pregnancy they can make a hard "ball" on a section of your tummy."
  • "like my stomach muscles are tightening and my stomach gets rock hard."
  • "the muscles in my stomach are pulling to the centre and tightening,"
  • "a mild cramp just like you would feel during the period. "
  • "like I had a corset built into my back and someone was pulling the strings as HARD as possible!! (Lots of pressure on my back) & my belly went rock hard. It wasn't too painful, but it didn't feel good either."
- a few answers taken off this page.

All I can say is, I will try and let you peoples know what the experience was like for me, if it happens.

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