Contractions: what they are and how to recognize them

Contractions: what they are and how to recognize them
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The contractions

They start from the bottom of the uterus and spread downwards, towards the pubis: they are the contractions, a physiological phenomenon that occurs during pregnancy and which consists in the abrupt shortening of the muscle fiber.

Le contractions I am therefore involuntary muscle contractions: being the uterine musculature of the smooth type, it can independently generate the contraction, as does the heart. Instead, the contractions are different isometriche, a type of muscle contraction that creates tension in the muscle without causing it to shorten or stretch.

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How to recognize uterine contractions

"It is important to know how to recognize contractions, distinguishing them from other types of pain: for example, a fixed and prolonged pain in the abdominal area is not a contraction, it could be a disease that requires medical intervention", explains Antonella Bastianelli, obstetrician at the San Camillo Forlanini Hospital of the city.

"The contractions could be described as spasms, tensions at the level of the belly that last only a few seconds and then they disappear ». What happens, what does the woman feel? "The belly contracts and hardens, to stay in tension for a few seconds and then go back to relax ».


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When and why contractions occur

Contractions can be felt in any gestational period even if with different intensity: the strongest are those related to labor, up to the expulsive phase ".

in first weeks of pregnancy the contractions are physiological: "It is possible that the uterus is contracting just around the time when your period should have come." These are sporadic and irregular contractions, not always felt and perceived by the woman.

Moving forward with the pregnancy, since second quarter the contractions may be related to the enlargement of the uterus, the baby's movements or the mother's tiredness. «For this reason, we advise women to stay at rest and to take mineral salts and magnesium: the lack of these elements in fact causes the uterus to contract further ».

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Braxton Hicks Contractions

"Towards the end of pregnancy, the so-called Braxton Hicks contractions are felt ”, from the name of the physician John Braxton Hicks who first, in 1872, identified and described them. Read also: what are Braxton Hicks contractions

"They are a good omen, because they are the contractions with which the uterus prepares for labor": their function is in fact that of modify and dilate the uterine cervix, so that the baby can then progress, at the appropriate time, to the birth canal. They are distinguished from other types of contractions because 'they can last even for two hours but they are sporadic, they are neither rhythmic nor regular. They generally disappear spontaneously, otherwise try to relax with a hot bath ».

Birth contractions

In the preparation phase for childbirth, the contractions are still irregular and the midwife's advice is not to "go to the hospital, as these are contractions that will pass within a few hours."

If the contractions are effective, there is the "loss of the mucous plug, which seals the cervix: it can be recognized by the loss of a dense and whitish secretion". Similarly, it may happen to see small vaginal bleeding, pink streaks: "these are markings, signs that indicate that the contractions are having an effect on the cervix and represent a progression of cervical dilation".

Read also: Contractions in pregnancy

Contractions every 10 minutes

Le contractions announcing a labor valid "I'm painful e regular, mostly lasting in time".

They generally have one duration of 40-50 seconds and follow each other a time intervals of approximately 10 minutes to then become «more and more frequent and gradually more intense. Above all: the contractions of labor when they begin do not stop, but begin to have regular and increasingly shorter pauses ».

relieve pain during labor, the midwife recommends «a hot shower, which in the hospital we make pregnant women do even while sitting on the toilet; assume the position with legs apart; rotate the pelvis in the shape of a figure of eight to facilitate the rotation of the head during progression, while the partner massages the sacrum coccygeal area with the palm of the hand, again with rotational movements. Even moving around a lot helps to better tolerate pain. We also use the a lot ball which helps mothers to assume positions that can relieve pain or allow micro-movements to be made with the pelvis ».

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Questions and answers

How to recognize the contraction of labor?

The contractions of labor are recognized because they are regular, painful and last more than 30 seconds. They follow each other at intervals of about 10 minutes and then become more and more frequent and gradually more intense.

How are Braxton Hicks contractions recognized?

They are distinguished from other types of contractions because Braxton Hicks' contractions can last for up to two hours but are sporadic, not rhythmic or regular.

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