Sunday, June 6, 2010

Early bird braxton hicks and 28 weeks

Oh the braxton hicks! They're back! I feel like I have to share at least a portion of my last experience with these suckers for people to understand why I am somewhat dreading their return.
I never had any with my first pregnancy, or at least none that I could tell. The close personal relationship with these things came with my second pregnancy. I started getting them at about 34 weeks. They started infrequently and not very regular, but by 36 weeks they had started to come every second day, 5 minutes apart like clock work. I know 36 weeks is too early to have a baby, but it's not unheard of so I was a little worried that this was a sign that I was starting to get ready for the delivery, especially since with my first birth my body didn't mess around. When I had uterine activity it was b/c I was in labour. After about a week of sitting there timing "contractions" day after day I asked (begged) my dr. to do a cervical check. Thankfully he reported that no there was no change in my cervix, but did request weekly NST's (non stress tests) at the hospital from that point on. He wanted to make sure baby was still happy in there with all the activity going on. The news that no I wasn't delivering this child yet allowed me to go another couple weeks not focusing on these annoying, but useless contractions and just live my life. Ignoring them was easier said then done since they were still coming every 5 minutes apart 12 hours at a time and would take my breath away with every one. Finally at about 38 1/2 weeks I thought for sure I was in labour. The braxton hicks were getting stronger and they were so frequent that I figured they HAD to be doing something. My mom works in maternity so that evening when she was working I slipped into the hospital to get her to check everything out. They started out with the NST and based on the contractions it looked like I was in the early stages of labour. There was a lot of activity, but after getting her co-worker to check my cervix they gave me the news that not only was I not softened, dilated or effaced, but they couldn't even reach my cervix yet! It was still posterior!! I couldn't believe it!! I only had 1 1/2 weeks until my due date and although I was still enjoying being pregnant, sleeping well, completely comfortable, I was just flabbergasted that nothing was happening! To make a long story short I continued to have these braxton hicks until the day my dr. stripped my membranes. I was barely even one cm. dilated at that point, but at least my body was getting something done. That membrane strip put an end to the braxton hicks for a whole day and at 7pm I got my first real contraction of the pregnancy. I went into the hospital at about 12:30am and delivered my 2nd baby girl at 3:25am (3 days early!). I have to say it was a beautiful labour and delivery. I remember it with such fondness and I honestly can't wait to do it again.

I felt like those braxton hicks had pestered me on a daily basis. They were a constant reminder that I was close to my due date and that it could happen any day and I literally sat on the edge of my birthing ball for the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy wondering when it would be. (I had swapped out my computer chair for my birthing ball to help open my pelvis and hopefully get my cervix ripening)

Thankfully I haven't had them anywhere near as regular yet, but this is by far the earliest they have ever started. The good thing that I can tell you is that at least we know these contractions do ABSOLUTELY nothing to my cervix. This is in no way a sign that this baby is going to come early. I hope that I have learned a few things about my body and that I won't be such a sucker this time around. I really never thought I would know the difference between false and real labour, but when I had that first real contraction I knew without a doubt. Here are some of the things I have learned about my braxton hicks.
1) Real contractions start out slower (10, 15, 20 mins or more apart) and get closer together. My braxton hicks start out close together (5 mins apart), but don't get more frequent. I never had one closer than 3 minutes apart.
2) My braxton hicks DO get stronger. I would put the ones I'm getting now on a strength scale of 2, but they did get up to a 10 with pregnancy #2. The main difference is that real contractions hurt. Even the first one I had caused a small amount of pain. My braxton hicks tighten, but they don't ever hurt. It's not like cramping for me at all. Labour however, can start out like cramping.
3) Braxton hicks (for me) feel like a sneeze that I never quite get out. It wraps around my belly and makes it hard as a rock, but just when I'm waiting for it to peak and maybe hurt it starts receding instead. I also feel like the baby is pushing out with it's whole body so it's not the pushing down sensation that comes with labour. My real contractions start in my hips and/or back and wrap around my whole belly and then no matter what stage of labour they will reach a peak and recede. Both contractions feel like waves rushing through my body, but the braxton hicks never reach my back or hips.
4) Lastly braxton hicks can usually be stopped or slowed down based on what sort of activity you are doing. Mine would almost completely go away if I had a bath or laid down whereas when real labour is here you can slow down the contractions, but no matter what you do that baby is coming and as long as baby is in the right position and things are happening properly you can only slow it down for so long. The braxton hicks I'm getting now stop when I walk around. Sitting is what brings them on... so that's a little different than last time.

I think that's the end of my rant on braxton hicks. I'm kind of sick of typing those two words as I'm sure you are of reading them. I was mainly trying to remind myself that yes I do know the difference between real and false labour, these are not doing anything and I should ignore them. They are easy to ignore right now, but I'm expecting in the weeks to come they will get stronger and more frequent. I am going to have to have a mantra to myself saying "ignore them, they aren't doing anything, do not time them Brandi!" I tend to have a bit of OCD and like to have things organized and on paper, but I will not time them!! haha :)

Here are some updated pics on the growing belly.

Oh side note: I just visited my friend and her brand new tiny 5lbs 12oz baby girl. Looking at the baby I couldn't imagine how she fit in her momma's belly. She was SO tiny and yet it still looked incomprehensible to me. My children weren't even that small! God really is the ultimate designer. The whole process really blows my mind!

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