Lord Braxton, stop trying to get me into bed!
“Braxton Hicks contractions are a normal part of any pregnancy and are simply your body’s way of practicing for the big event.”
– Someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about.
That was then.
During week 33 of my first pregnancy, I’d been sitting on the couch one night and had noticed a hardening of my impressive bump. Basketball hard, ice cream soft, repeat. What? “I think I’m having contractions” I said to TSH, “and I’m not talking about a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word”.
The contractions were about 5 minutes apart and they totally freaked me out. We waddled off to emergency and it was confirmed, I was having contractions 4 -7 minutes apart but nothing had started to happen ‘down below’. I just needed to rest. They called them ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions or ‘practice’ contractions and explained that it was my body preparing for labour.
After another check at week 34, it was discovered that these bastard fake contractions had been doing something and I was starting to dilate. I was officially in pre-labour and was put on immediate bed rest. “You’ll probably have the baby within the week”, claimed my doctor, a worried look on her face.
I dutifully climbed into bed and watched Gilmore Girls Season 1 through 7. I didn’t worry about the unfinished nursery or the fact that my newborn wouldn’t have any clothes if it were to be born tomorrow.
But bed rest didn’t help. I was having these contractions every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day and no matter what I did, they didn’t stop. TSH claimed that my uterus was my most trained muscle ever.
By the time Lorelei and Luke had patched things up, week 37 had rolled by and I was allowed to get out of bed. By week 38 the kid had more clothes than Carrie Bradshaw and by week 39 the nursery was finished. By week 40 the new video camera was bought and we were ready, more than ready. By week 41 we felt like international adoption would have been a more speedy process. At 41+2 the doctors decided I needed to be put out of my misery, I needed to be induced. After all of that, I needed to be induced! Oh Mother Nature, you are just like my real mother, always full of surprises.
All the contractions meant that I came into hospital 5 cm dilated so to quote the midwife, ‘lots of the work has already been done’. Nup. Nada. All that had happened was that the baby had gotten really comfortable in there and had no intention of moving anywhere. After 18 hours of swearing in two languages and multiple synthetic drugs, our 4.3kg/9.5lbs cherub needed to be literally sucked right out.
Basically 2 months of pre-labor and one million practice contractions had prepared my body for absolutely nothing. What is the point of these Bastard Braxton Hicks contractions? Lord Braxton, you are full of shit.
This is now.
At week 13 I had felt something that was similar to my original Bastard Braxton Hicks or possibly I was just crazy. I rang my midwife and she told me that I was crazy. At week 18 I had felt something that was similar to my original Braxton Hicks or possibly I was just crazy. I rang my midwife and she told me that I was crazy. “They don’t happen this early”, she’d explained. Oh don’t they?
At week 21 I felt something absolutely like my original Bastard Braxton Hicks and ended up visiting my old’ friends at emergency. Confirmed. They were back, just 3 months early. They said that they are nothing to worry about at this stage but that I should look into buying some box set DVDs, as I will be more than likely heading to bed rest town.
Now at week 26, they have settled down quite a bit but it’s all rather stressy. The doctors aren’t overly concerned so I’m taking on the worry for them. I’ve been told to do as “absolutely little as possible” which TSH informs me shouldn’t disrupt much from my usual routine.
How to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and real contractions:
1. Braxton Hicks contractions should fade away if you get up and walk around. Real contractions intensify with mild exercise and make you feel like you want to die.
2. Test your contractions by taking a warm shower. If they’re just Braxton Hicks contractions, the warm water will sooth and relax your uterine muscles, but real uterine contractions will become stronger and more frequent and will make you swear.
3. Drink several glasses of water to see if your contractions go away. This remedy is usually sufficient to calm Braxton Hicks contractions, but it will have you visiting the loo so much that they come back soon after.
4. Try complaining to your husband. If he can stand your complaints then it is probably only Braxton Hicks, but if he can’t take your complaining anymore, then it’s off to the hospital for you.