a pregnant woman

Symptoms of labor can be very tricky. Pregnancy is a bittersweet experience. Every woman can relate to the happiness and joy she feels when she discovers that she is pregnant. Pregnancy is full of mixed emotions and eagerness of having the little one in your arms. Labor is such an event where many women waves of panic and hops to the hospital only to discover that they were false labor also known as Braxton Hicks. There is a difference between Braxton Hicks and real labor pain.

Braxton Hicks are usually contractions with no pain but obviously uncomfortable to feel and they are not steady and consistent. Braxton can be felt in the area around your tummy when your tummy tightens, rather than your whole abdomen. Braxton Hicks subsides eventually and doesn’t get worse. When you get such contractions you can try changing your position or have a little walk. If the contraction subsides you can know that it is not real labor.

So, how to differentiate between Braxton Hicks and real labor pain.

Well, in short, labor pain is a stage 2 process. Braxton Hicks is the 1st stage of labor, where the body is just preparing for real labor. This is also known as pre-labor. This process of pre-labor is continued with some physical changes in your body for the entire month. The changes like your cervix will gradually start to dilate, your baby will start descending towards the cervix and rectum, putting more pressure on the pelvis and there will be more of Braxton Hicks contractions. All of these changes are very important for the body to prepare for real labor.

·         Real labor contractions are much stronger, painful and very frequent as compared to Braxton Hicks.
·         Real labor contractions get worse with any kind of activity and do not subside even if you change your position or try to take a walk.
·         It gets more intense starting from your lower back towards the tummy. The tummy becomes hard as and when the baby moves and tries to find a way out. This happens in sequence and more frequently as your labor progresses.
·         Labor patterns cannot be set as equal for all women in general. Some women feel it more and stay in labor for hours and days, whereas, some feel less pain and stays in labor for hardly an hour.
·         As the labor pain increases and your baby tries to make its way out, the membrane called ‘mucus’ plug breaks and the water gushes out. This is also known as a water break.

So, these are the things to keep in mind and track your labor carefully. If you have any doubt, never feel shy to call upon your doctor or hospital to confirm your exact situation. Let them know in detail what is happening and act accordingly. Never sit at home while bearing the pain!