If the muscles of the uterus contract during pregnancy, this is known as contraction.
Labor is often only associated with the birth process. However, there are some subgroups (lower pains, pre-pains, postpartum pains, etc.) that can occur in the last trimester of pregnancy or even earlier. These subgroups differ in their strength, frequency and duration.
Contractions during pregnancy seem very threatening, especially for first-time mothers. However, the occurrence of labor does not necessarily indicate an illness or complications. On the contrary: three to four weeks before the birth, it is normal and even beneficial for depression and pre-labor to occur. These slowly bring the child into a suitable position. The following sections provide more information about contraception types and how they can be measured.

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What is the progression of the contractions before the birth?

During pregnancy, pregnancy pains can occur in the last trimester (sometimes even earlier). These contractions are usually low-intensity but can reach a relatively high frequency.

A few weeks before the expected due date, you will experience vertigo. Compared to the pregnancy contractions, they already have a higher intensity, but they appear irregular.

The strength of labor increases four to five days before delivery. The time between contractions, however, continues to decrease. These contractions are called pre-contractions. Shortly before the birth or the opening period, they can appear at intervals of four to ten minutes. Just like the sinking pains, they are irregular.

Lower and forward pains bring the unborn child into a better position with regard to the upcoming birth.

Labor pains can be divided into two subgroups:

  • Opening pains: They cause an opening of the cervix. The cervix opens an average of 1 cm per hour and a complete opening is around 10 cm. The birth process requires a full opening. Compared to pregnancy labor, contractions are much stronger, more regular and more synchronized. Initially, contractions occur every 10 minutes. Shortly before the expulsion phase (birth of the child), these contractions appear every 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Expulsion pains: They cause the expulsion / birth of the child and are very strong. In addition, these contractions are very regular and coordinated. The frequency or frequency also increases. Contraction occurs every 5-10 minutes. In the last phase of the expulsion, contractions occur more frequently (every 2-4 minutes) and the strength increases up to pressure contractions.

Afterbirth pains within about half an hour after the birth of the child are rather weak and more irregular. Even so, these contractions are particularly important as they expel plaster cake, shrink the uterus, and stop bleeding.

Mild contractions, which are responsible for further shrinking the uterus, can occur even a few days after the birth.

In addition, it can lead to a "storm of labor" up to and including permanent contraction of the uterus in various stages of the birth. These are very strong and painful and can indicate complications. A doctor should be consulted.

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How can you measure the intervals between labor?

At home, contractions can be measured using a clock.
The duration should best be determined to the second. Therefore, the stopwatch function of a cell phone is usually very suitable. The duration of a contraction, the time and the time interval to the next contraction should be determined. With the help of a table with duration, split time and intensity, a protocol can be created.

Estimated values ​​are usually not usable. In particular, primiparous women who are in labor for the first time understandably assess it to be longer and more threatening. Of course, the table can be expanded and comments on the development of labor, pain and the location of the pain can be added. This protocol helps with admission to the delivery room or when the midwife arrives and gives a quick overview of the process so far.

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What is a CTG?

CTG stands for cardiotocogram, which means heart sound contraceptive recorder. During this examination, the pregnant woman lies on her back and a "belt" is strapped around her stomach. The examination is not dangerous (neither for the child nor for the mother). Most gynecologists in private practice have such a device in their practices.

According to current maternity guidelines, a physiological / normal pregnancy does not provide for a CTG examination during pregnancy. However, if the pregnancy is considered a risk pregnancy or if complications arise, a CTG is written. When admitted to the delivery room or during childbirth, however, all pregnant women should be monitored using a CTG, which uses ultrasound to record the child's heart rate. The child's heart rate should be between 110 and 160 beats per minute. Well above the frequency of an adult.

At the same time, labor is measured. Newer CTG devices can also detect child movements. If the CTG is normal, the child is likely to be in good condition.

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At what intervals should you go to the hospital?

Both the frequency and the strength of labor continue to increase before delivery. In addition, the contractions occur more regularly. A general statement about the interval between labor and going to the hospital is difficult. If labor occurs about five to ten minutes apart, a hospital should be visited. However, it is not only the distance that counts, but also, as mentioned above, the strength, regularity and dynamism. A hospital can and should be consulted if anything is unclear, uncertain or abnormal.

If the amniotic sac should burst, the pregnant woman must be transported to a hospital lying down, as the umbilical cord or limbs can prolapse. As soon as the amniotic sac has burst, a doctor should be contacted urgently, even if contractions are absent or irregular.

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What can you do if the contractions don't shorten?

In some pregnant women it happens that the contractions do not increase and the interval does not decrease. Risk factors for inefficient labor can include multiple pregnancies, many births in the past, or a very large fetus. If the contractions only stagnate for a short period of time, one can wait and see.

Some tips and tricks on how to promote labor can be found on the internet. However, some measures should be taken with caution. If you are interested, this can be discussed during the prenatal care, the preliminary discussions with midwives or a preparatory course. A simple means of encouraging labor is light exercise, such as going for a walk. A warm bath or a massage of the abdomen are also often found helpful.

Other home remedies and tricks such as laxatives, labor cocktails or irritation of the nipples, on the other hand, should only be carried out in consultation with the attending midwives, nurses and doctors. If, in spite of these measures, you do not have sufficient contractions during childbirth, a doctor can administer oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that is also secreted by the body itself during childbirth. It leads to an increase in labor. Another possibility is the vaginal administration of prostaglandins.

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What is the cause if the contractions are different?

Pregnancy, sinking or pre-labor can occur during pregnancy. They are usually irregular and help to put the child in a good position for the birth before the birth. The irregularity is completely normal here.

Birth pains, however, are more regular. However, this regularity can be disturbed. The cause of this can be a long labor process. The uterus is then too exhausted to produce adequate labor. Another cause can be medication administered. If the uterus is overstretched (large, unborn child, multiple pregnancy, many pregnancies, etc.), labor can be restricted. However, there are many other possible causes as well.

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