womens health dr tooni

Another piece of the “Dr. Tooni” women’s health project: what to do if you’re having pregnancy contractions, and not sure if it’s real labor or “false labor”/Braxton-Hicks contractions.

what to do if you have pregnancy contractions


The difference between “real” contractions and “fake” contractions is, do they cause the cervix (opening of the uterus/womb) to change/dilate?

ONLY true labor DOES cause dilation, meaning the cervix is starting to open up because the baby is wanting or ready to come out!

The maximum dilation is 10 centimeters, meaning the cervix is completely thinned out, and the baby’s head can fit through!

Note: Many women, if they have given birth before, have cervixes that are partially open already, at 1-2 cm. Some may even be at 5 cm open, but if that has not changed over the course of a few hours, then they are not in true labor.

Braxton-Hicks contractions can be very painful and feel like true contractions, which makes it so hard to tell if it’s the right time to go to the hospital or not.

Of course it never hurts to go have a doctor check your cervix to see if you are in true labor, but if you are not, they will just send you home again. So to save yourself countless unnecessary trips, I recommend you try some things at home first.

Try all these methods, which can soothe the uterine contractions and irritability. Don’t worry, if it’s true labor, then none of these will help or make them go away!

Being on your feet a lot and dehydration can make them worse, so hydrating by drinking 1-2 large glasses of water helps (remember: no alcohol while pregnant!!)

Lying on your left side (rather than the right side) takes some pressure off of a large blood vessel to your heart, allowing more and better blood flow to all parts of your body.

If none of them help, and the pain is increasingly getting worse and the contractions closer together, go to your nearest hospital as you may be giving birth soon!!

Pregnancy contractions can be tricky, but with the right tools and knowledge, this can hopefully help you know when and if you need to go to the hospital. Many people go in for a labor check because they’ve been so uncomfortable, without trying to soothe their pain at home first.

If you found this helpful, please share it!

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Who am I?
Hi! I'm Dr. Toni, a carTOONIst. I empower, educate and advocate for women and minorities through my art and coaching, while traveling nomadically. I help others also follow our hearts and live true to themselves, no matter what others say!
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