With a due date of Aug. 15, the Peterson’s third baby is due any day! We checked in to see if there are any signs of an impending arrival and how this pregnancy is different from the first two.
Q: Heather, tell us about your previous labor experiences.
A: Labor was different each time. Our first child, Isaac, was eight days overdue, so I was induced. My doctor let me know that some inductions take longer than others, and that was true for us—we didn’t get to meet Isaac for two more days!
With our second child, Anna, I had contractions periodically prior to going into actual labor—including one episode about a week before her delivery that made us think we were close. That time, I had regular contractions that were 10-15 minutes apart for about four hours before tapering off. I ended up going into spontaneous labor eight days past her due date. I didn’t think I was in real labor at first due to the previous week’s experience—but when the contractions got closer together in frequency and became more intense, I knew it was the real deal. I had forgotten how painful labor can be.
Q: Are you having any early contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions with this pregnancy?
A: This pregnancy is different than the others. This time, I’ve been having Braxton Hicks more often, and they started earlier, around six months.
Q: Dr. Peterson, what’s the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and actual labor contractions, and how do you know if you’re really in labor?
A: Braxton Hicks contractions are relatively painless contractions that occur during pregnancy with increasing frequency over time but are not associated with labor.
Labor contractions typically repeat at regular intervals and can last about 30-70 seconds. True contractions will continue regardless of activity or positional changes, whereas false labor tends to stop with movement and change of position. Other things to look for are changes in vaginal discharge, such as bleeding, watery discharge, pelvic or lower abdominal pressure, or a constant, dull lower backache.
Another sign of labor is if the water breaks (rupture of membranes). This can be a subtle trickle of fluid or a sudden gush. I tell my patients to contact The Birthplace at Fairview right away if they think their water breaks and to note any color or odor. Not all fluid that leaks is from the rupture of membranes, but we are able to do tests on the fluid to see if it is amniotic fluid or something else.
It is quite common for patients to contact The Birthplace at Fairview about contractions or any other symptom to ask if they should be evaluated for labor. Sometimes they’re told to come in for monitoring and to be evaluated for the start of labor. Some women are found to be in labor, while other women are not—and that’s OK. We prefer patients call or come in with questions for their safety and the safety of their babies.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: With all of this discussion on the signs of labor, we’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next Baby Peterson. It is hard to contain the excitement as we anticipate meeting him or her. We can’t wait to see how this birth story will unfold—and when!
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