False contractions: how to identify. How long do false contractions last?

At 34 - 42 weeks of pregnancy, doctors do not rule out the occurrence of false contractions, which are also called “training” or Braxton Hicks contractions. Every expectant mother, in order to avoid panic and unnecessary stress, should not only know about this not entirely pleasant state, but also be able to react to it correctly.

In fact, false contractions are voluntary contractions of the uterine muscles that prepare the cervix for dilation and the uterus itself for the upcoming birth. Moreover, with their help, general blood circulation improves, since the characteristic activity of the uterus helps to enrich cells with vital oxygen and nutrients; which is also important.

Let's figure out the name

All these words are synonyms:

  • false contractions during pregnancy;
  • training contractions;
  • precursor contractions: as they relate to the so-called harbingers of labor - signs that childbirth is just around the corner;
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions: named after the English doctor who first described this phenomenon at the end of the 19th century; in the slang of pregnant women, especially experienced ones, they are also called “Brextons” in their own way.

True, false contractions differ slightly from precursor contractions in one respect: they occur at any stage from the middle of pregnancy, and precursor contractions only 2-3 weeks before birth, that is, no earlier than 36 weeks and no later than 40 weeks. What they have in common is that neither one nor the other leads to cervical dilatation, that is, they are not a sign of the onset of premature labor if they occur irregularly and do not intensify.

Comparative analysis

So, we know that false contractions happen. How to identify them and not give in to panic?

  1. The nature of the pain without time intervals. Their intensity remains the same as at the beginning.
  2. Contractions appear no more than 4 times in sixty minutes.
  3. They are mild, and the pregnant woman does not have the feeling that the spasms have become stronger.
  4. Contractions are felt only in the lower abdomen or in the pelvis.
  5. If they go away, it happens after the pregnant woman lies down. Or, on the contrary, it was similar.

When should you expect “fake” contractions?

False contractions can occur at any stage of a healthy pregnancy, and this is an absolutely normal and natural process designed to prepare the uterus for childbirth. However, in the early stages they most often are not recorded in any way by the woman’s consciousness, that is, they pass completely painlessly and unnoticed. Training contractions become more obvious after 20 weeks, and by 38 weeks they appear in 70% of women.

Something unusual also happens - a pregnant woman does not encounter such a harbinger of labor as false contractions. Do not be afraid of such a development of events: whether you like it or not, a healthy body is in any case preparing for the birth of a child, even if there are no external signs in the form of cramping tension in the uterus. This is an individual feature of the course of pregnancy, which does not in any way affect the success of childbirth. Perhaps you have a high pain threshold: what brings very sensitive and uncomfortable sensations to another expectant mother happens to you casually. This is neither good nor bad, it’s just that every mother-baby pair is a whole world, and there is no one correct course of pregnancy and childbirth.

When is it necessary to rush to the maternity hospital?

  1. If suddenly the expectant mother begins to experience vaginal bleeding.
  2. In case of the beginning or complete cessation of water.
  3. When contractions intensify and become stronger every minute.
  4. If uterine contractions begin before 37 weeks.
  5. In the case when the little one moves poorly, and nothing like this was noticed before.

Feelings during contractions

What are they, training contractions? Their very name eloquently suggests that this is training before real, productive contractions, which will lead to the dilatation of the cervix and the expulsion of the fetus through the birth canal “into the light of day.” When training contractions begin, the woman feels:

  • sensations of rhythmic compression inside the abdomen;
  • heaviness and mild soreness;
  • petrification in the abdominal area;
  • slight discomfort.

Specific phenomena come and go unexpectedly, without any periodicity or systematicity. However, some women note that training contractions more often occur during rest, before bed, or vice versa, at a time when physical activity is present, for example, during a walk or exercise in the pool. False contractions do not cause severe pain. Painful training contractions may indicate pathology, so if they occur before 36-37 weeks, you should consult a doctor for help or advice.

Difference from real contractions

There are signs to determine whether contractions are preparatory or true. The occurrence of real contractions indicates the beginning of the labor process. This significance of contractions does not give some pregnant women peace. But you shouldn’t worry and get ready every time you go to the hospital if you know how to distinguish training contractions from labor contractions.

  1. Deadlines. False contractions during pregnancy occur periodically from 20 weeks, and real contractions not earlier than 36 weeks, and then during early labor, and normally at 39–40 weeks.
  2. Regularity and duration. Training contractions occur chaotically, do not increase and quickly pass with a change in activity or on their own. How long do false contractions last? No more than 2 minutes. Labor contractions gradually gain strength and duration, the interval between them inexorably shortens, the pain intensifies: a frequency of 5–6 times per minute means that the woman is in labor.
  3. Additional signs of childbirth: pain in the lower spine, cleansing of the stomach and intestines (vomiting, diarrhea), discharge of water and mucus plug. False contractions are not accompanied by such symptoms.
  4. Real contractions cannot be stopped by anything other than special medications. Training contractions before childbirth can not only be eased, but also stopped with the help of antispasmodics (papaverine, no-spa) or a warm bath.

The power of water

Ordinary warm water is a wonderful helper for a pregnant woman. If the expectant mother does not have any pathologies or health problems, a bath at a pleasant temperature will not only do no harm, but will also relax and harmonize her condition.

In addition, water is a reliable and safe indicator of the truth of the contraction process. Take a bath, but not hot or cold, but lukewarm, comfortable for the body, and plunge into it when contractions begin. False contractions will pass within 10 minutes after immersion. But labor pains may subside for a while or weaken slightly, but it will be impossible to reverse them.

This method can be used whenever doubt arises: how to distinguish false contractions from real ones. Couldn't relieve contractions with water? – It’s time to prepare for the trip to the maternity hospital, meeting the baby is very soon.

What kind of beast is this - false contractions?

Many imaginary spasms, or, as they are also called, precursors of labor, generally begin at the 37th week of gestation. And they differ from “real” contractions, in principle, only by the fact that the cervix remains closed. The question arises: “Is this normal?” Due to the fact that training contractions sometimes occur, a pregnant woman's cervix can prepare for the upcoming tests. Subsequently, during the process of “real” spasms, it will open quite simply. In general, there is no pathology in this.

During the process of contraction of the cervix, another “event” occurs - the plug comes out in the form of bloody discharge. When this happens, the cervix will begin to soften. Many pregnant women do not even notice this moment (the plug comes out). But there are also exceptions. Then the expectant mother rushes to the maternity hospital, experiencing pain and false contractions.

How to ease contractions?

Although Braxton Hicks training contractions do not cause severe pain, for your own peace of mind and comfort you can relieve them with the following techniques:

  • take a comfortable, relaxed position or simply change your body position;
  • drink water, eat something light;
  • take a warm shower or bath;
  • take a walk in the fresh air;
  • listen to pleasant, relaxing, meditative music;
  • do breathing exercises for training before childbirth.

False contractions not only prepare the body for the birth of a child, but also give a pregnant woman an excellent chance to practice experiencing pain. No matter how alarming this may be to every mother, the birth process is almost always accompanied by pain of varying degrees of intensity. And in this sense, the so-called false contractions are in some way the moment of truth. The ability to relax and experience any sensations will be very useful during childbirth. Different types of breathing help to endure pain without interfering with the opening of the cervix and without slowing down the process. If contractions occur, try breathing in one of the following ways:

  1. “Dog”: rapid, shallow breathing for several minutes. It is not recommended to use it for too long - you may run out of air and feel dizzy.
  2. Exhale slowly at the peak of the contraction, take a deep breath. After the contraction ends, continue taking deep breaths and exhalations.
  3. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale sharply through your mouth.

Warning symptoms

Pregnancy is not a disease, but it does not always go smoothly. Sometimes false contractions are accompanied by symptoms that require immediate medical attention:

  • atypical discharge before labor begins: bloody, watery, mucous;
  • severe pain;
  • feeling of pressure on the perineum;
  • frequency of contractions more than 4 times per minute.

These signs do not always indicate pathology - perhaps this is the beginning of labor, but then it is all the more necessary to be under the supervision of specialists.

When you know everything about false contractions (why they are needed, how they feel and what they look like, how long training contractions last, how to distinguish them from labor contractions and how to alleviate your condition), you can calmly and confidently experience them without unnecessary worries. This is what we wish for all expectant mothers.

Serious cause for concern

In general, the presence of false contractions at 34 - 42 weeks of pregnancy is quite normal, but there may still be significant cause for concern. If a woman begins to leak amniotic fluid, predominates bloody discharge from the vagina, feels acute pain and increased pressure in the groin, then it is necessary to urgently contact a local gynecologist or call an ambulance. Premature onset of labor cannot be ruled out, and this clinical picture cannot be avoided without qualified medical assistance.

How to distinguish from real generic ones?

A gynecologist conducting a scheduled appointment explains how to distinguish training contractions from real ones. The doctor will tell you how the spasms begin and feel, and what actions to take to relieve the discomfort.

Symptoms such as:

  • absence of severe pain;
  • disappearance of discomfort after changing body position or relaxation;
  • irregularity, short duration of time;
  • absence of any discharge.

Another important point that helps you find out how training contractions differ from real ones is the woman’s normal general well-being. During labor pains, the period between spasms rapidly decreases, the severity of sensations increases, and severe pain is disturbing, which over time becomes unbearable, intensifying with each subsequent spasm.

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