According to obstetricians, labor is the onset of painful, palpable rhythmic uterine contractions that are characterized by cervical changes (usually called cervical dilatation and effacement) which eventually lead to the descent of the fetus and consequently its expulsion through the birth canal. What do Braxton Hicks feel like and is lower back pain a sign of labor?
True labor is actually a progressive phenomenon and may involves sudden pain a woman feels while in labor. Now, you may ask “is lower back pain a sign of labor?”
Well, the truth is that labor pain is often characterized by a severe pain that increases in frequency, intensity and duration. Labor pains sometimes radiate to the back and thighs in some women. If you experience a lower abdominal pain which is accompanied by back pain and often comes in rhythm, and increases in frequency, intensity and duration may actually be labor pain.
As labor advances, there may be rupture of the sac (membranes) which covers the fetus and then subsequently passage of liquor. These are some of the features of true labor and signs that you may put to bed any moment from the onset of those signs.
However, true labor pain apart from coming in rhythms also comes with passage of show. A show is said to have been passed when you expel the thick cervical mucus plug through the vaginal. The cervical mucus plug helps to seal off the cervix and prevents any foreign particles, sperm during sex or bacteria from getting to the baby in the uterus. However, this cervical mucus plug is shed off as show when labor commences.
What do Braxton Hicks feel like?
Braxton Hicks are a form of irregular uterine contraction women feel before or during the third trimester of pregnancy. Unlike true labor, Braxton Hicks contraction is also a lower abdominal contraction but often painless, irregular and does not involve any cervical changes. It is NOT a sign of true labor and you need not worry about it. Braxton Hicks do not open the cervix. All you need is some bed rest.
Braxton Hicks contractions:
- Are usually painless
- Will not happen at regular intervals
- Don’t get closer together
- Are not aggravated by walking
- Are usually short-lived or don’t last longer
- Do not worsen over time
Braxton Hicks contractions may occur during the third trimester or as early as the second trimester. Braxton Hicks are perfectly normal and you need not worry about the false labor. Neither do you really have to do anything. However, If they are getting you uncomfortable, you can do the following:
- Take a walk. Usually, most false labor contractions stop when you get up and move or change position.
- Get some rest.
- Relax by doing the activities that you love
Braxton Hicks contraction usually resolves on its own even without medication. However, your obstetrician may recommend some analgesics if you still feel pain.
How do I know when am in true labor?
On the other hand, true labor
- is usually painful
- will happen at regular intervals
- gets closer together
- is aggravated by walking
- contractions last 30 to 45 seconds each
- Worsens over time
Lower back pain is a common experience pregnant women go through as their pregnancy advances. If your back pain is not accompanied by cervical changes, passage of show, drainage of liquor, you may be suffering from false labor or Braxton Hicks contraction. True labor is usually accompanied by cervical changes as it has been explained above. if you are experiencing labor pains, it is best to visit the hospital early enough so your obstetrician will monitor the progress of labor well enough and plan your delivery. The ultimate goal is to be healthy and deliver a healthy baby.
This post was written by Dr. Adeniyi Adesanya, a qualified & passionate medical doctor who loves to educate people about healthy living and lifestyle. Adeniyi is the owner and publisher of the Human Health Hub website.