When you’re 37 weeks or more into your pregnancy, every twinge can feel like a sign that your baby is coming out right now. While each woman experiences pregnancy a little differently, the false alarms that Braxton Hicks contractions inspire can become more frequent the closer you get to your due date. It can be hard to tell if you’re in labor or just practicing for the big day but try not to get frustrated about it. Sit out your contractions at home with plenty of rest and liquids, relax, and look over these symptoms from Desert Blossom Women’s Care to see if you’re more likely to be in real or false labor.

False Labor

It’s not uncommon for women to call their midwife or women’s care OBGYN when they’re having false contractions—they can feel very real. However, they’re not making progress toward delivery because they’re more like “practice runs” for the big day. Here are some of the signs of false labor:

  • You don’t have any bloody show and your vaginal discharge is brown
  • You think your water broke, but it smells like ammonia—it’s probably urine
  • Your contractions are unpredictable in terms of intervals, intensity, and length and don’t become more regular or shorter
  • Your pain is centered in your lower abdomen and groin and feels more like abdominal tightening
  • The contractions go away instead of progressing on their own or when you switch activities or positions

Real Labor

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, your contractions might be real. Real labor will cause your cervix to dilate, and sometimes the only way to know whether your contractions are real is to get a vaginal exam to measure the changes. Call your midwife if you’re not sure what your symptoms could mean.

  • You experience a bloody or pinkish vaginal discharge with some of your mucous plug
  • Your water broke—this will feel like liquid trickling out of you, and you can’t control it like you can urine
  • Your contractions could start out irregular, but develop a more regular pattern and become longer, stronger, and closer together over time
  • Your pain begins higher in your abdomen and radiates throughout your whole abdomen and lower back
  • Your contractions continue when you change activities or positions and grow stronger with increased activity

When in Doubt, Get It Checked Out

If you’re concerned about your pre-labor or pregnancy symptoms, it’s best to call your midwife. Every woman experiences different signs that baby is on the way, and it can be hard to tell for yourself, no matter how much you read about pre-labor. No matter what, your baby will show up sometime pretty soon. Besides, you won’t be the first to make an unnecessary trip, and you won’t be the last, and it’s better to be sure.

If you don’t have a midwife to call and you’re a mother in southern Arizona, get in touch with Desert Blossom Women’s Care. For compassionate maternity and women’s care, reach out today.

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