You may have felt the contractions before. It happens more often in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. The contractions may be quite regular, last for 1-2 minutes and may or may not be painful.
These sorts of contractions are known as Braxton Hicks contractions and are not yet real labor. Real labor usually starts with a discharge from your vagina and very regular contractions.
The beginning of real labor
Blood-stained mucus discharge from your vagina is one of the signs that labor may be about to set in. The discharge is called a ‘show’ and is very normal. During the early stages of labor, your contractions may be quite irregular in length and strength. Over the course of days or hours they become more regular, first they come every 30 minutes, then every 10 or so and later every 5 minutes.
What to do during early labor
Keeping yourself busy in early labor is a good idea. You can distract yourself by watching your favorite videos, reading your favorite book, or going for a walk. Normally, you should contact someone to keep you company. If your labor starts at night, you may try to get some sleep while your contractions are still irregular. When contractions are becoming more regular and uncomfortable, you may take a warm shower or bath to feel better.
How to reduce the pain
In this early stage of labor, you may feel the contraction pains in your abdomen or back. You may get some relief by placing a hot water bottle or hot pack on your back or lower abdomen. You may also find a back massage helpful. In addition, you can try different positions such as lying on your side, walking, rocking on all fours, or squatting.
When to drive to the hospital
If your contractions become stronger and arrive every 5 minutes, it’s time to drive to the hospital. Another clear indicator is when your water breaks. The amniotic fluid which surrounds Your Child in the uterus during pregnancy is now leaving your body in preparation for birth.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat, MD. (4 July 2020)