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Am I In Labor?

One mom asks, “I’ve been feeling contractions every 5 minutes for the past hour. They’re not that painful, but doesn’t this mean that I’m in labor?” Not necessarily.

A common dilemma for first-time moms, especially, is how to tell if you are in labor. Many women in their third trimester are plagued by Braxton Hicks contractions. These are “practice contractions” to prepare your uterus for eventual labor. They can last days, weeks, or even months. Braxton Hicks contractions are usually not painful, but can sometimes be intense. They can even occur rapidly one after the other before they subside. Many of us do mistake them for the real thing. I assure you that the nurses in the Birth Center can attest to that.

If you are having Braxton Hicks-like contractions that become regular for several hours, call your doctor. This could be the beginning of labor. On the other hand, it may not. You will be able to tell when you’re in labor, as the contractions will take your breath away. A good rule of thumb is that if you are able to talk regularly while contracting, then you’re probably not in labor.

This may be discouraging news to some of us that are overdue with swollen ankles and sore ribs. All you can do is try to distract yourself as you wait for your baby’s arrival. You will know it when she’s ready to come. Until then, hang in there. It may feel like you’ve been pregnant forever, but your newborn will be there soon. Good luck!

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