The 40-week mark of pregnancy is the right time for delivering the baby. Women should expect latent signs of labor like cramping, discharges, and contraction or tightening of the belly. Sometimes, the period pain is there, but you will not feel any sort of belly tightening. If these signs are inexistent at this expected week, moms are already panicking for an overdue baby. But don’t worry since no contraction may mean your baby is still not due and needs a little more time.
Period cramps alone may not merit contractions. There are two kinds of contraction that a woman may go through: false or true contraction. For true labor to happen, the contraction should be frequent and should occur at an anticipated time interval.
What is a contraction?
Contraction in pregnancy is the anticipated tightening of the uterus muscles before a mother goes into true labor. Women will feel contraction as a dull ache in the back and abdomen to a pain in the sides and back that can affect the whole body. Some describe it as a cross between extreme menstrual cramps and diarrhea cramps.
Pregnancy contraction is an important part of childbirth. The process is responsible for pushing the baby out of the uterus and cervix.
False contractions of Braxton Hicks
Some women may feel the contraction infrequently, but it does not always necessarily mean true labor.
Braxton Hicks, or false contractions, happen to thin out and soften the cervix in preparation for the baby’s delivery. It is called the false alarm in labor and was named after the doctor who first described the sensation.
False contraction starts around the third trimester of the pregnancy or at 40 weeks. The tightening happens irregularly, often mild, and without a pattern in spacing. It often occurs later in the day after an active activity or while changing positions.
Real labor contraction
Real contraction is the process where the body releases the hormone oxytocin. The oxytocin stimulates the uterus to tighten and contract, which will push the baby down the birth canal. The real contraction signals labor, and the baby is due for delivery within the next few hours.
A true contract is characterized by evenly-spaced pain that gets shorter and shorter within the hour. For example, you may feel the contraction five minutes apart. Then it shortens to three minutes to two until it occurs within a few seconds.
Women in labor will also experience a bloody mucosal discharge with the contraction. By this time, the baby may have dropped lower into the belly. Moms will also experience a fluid leak or breaking of the water or amniotic sac.
Some moms will also begin to feel nauseous before labor. These are the signs that the little one is already on his way.
No signs of labor at 40 weeks
When at 40 weeks you do not feel any sign of labor except for the period-like pain, it may start to bother you. Some people may tell you that the baby is overdue, and you will wonder if you need a C-section.
But most doctors do not recommend a C-section unless pregnancy has complications. They will usually only suggest that after the lapse of 41 weeks, and there are still no contractions and signs of labor.
Don’t worry. Your expected date of delivery (EDD) is just a conservative estimate of your delivery. It is not always precise, and no one, not even your doctor, can tell the exact day your baby will come out.
According to the Perinatal Institute, only 4% of babies are born on the predicted date.
The baby may come out a week before or a week after your EED. More than a week means a complication and should be dealt with by your medical team.
40 weeks pregnancy preparation
If it is taking you too long to wait for any signs of your baby’s arrival, don’t sweat it out.
Sometimes, anxiety will only slow down the labor process as it prevents the release of oxytocin. The best thing to do is to relax and engage in some useful activities that can hasten the labor.
1. Get some rest
Don’t get too hyped up and agitated, nor worry about your delayed contractions. Get some sleep and relax your body as you will need all the energy you have during the delivery.
Remember how your sleeping habit will become grossly affected after your baby’s arrival. So take some time to get eight hours of sleep while you still can.
2. Do some light exercises
It is okay to do your daily chores while waiting. Walking and moving can trigger labor as pressure on the cervix and gravity work to move the baby downward. Physically fit moms are required to have at least 20 minutes of walking daily.
Climbing a low flight of stairs is also helpful for inducing labor naturally.
3. Have a massage
A good massage can calm you both physically and mentally, and it will also help your body relax. Some women may engage in acupressure to trigger labor through the body’s pressure point.
But if you want this service, always make sure that you are dealing with a trained professional. You can also talk to your doctor before engaging in the service for your and your baby’s safety.
4. Try some nipple stimulation and sex
Nipple stimulation and sex are also effective ways of naturally inducing labor. These activities can trigger the release of oxytocin that will help initiate contraction and labor.
For nipple stimulation, you may use a breast pump to mimic a baby’s latch. These are backed by science and are simple techniques that you can safely do at home with your partner.
Is it okay to have contractions at 37 weeks?
Braxton Hicks contractions may manifest themselves earlier at 16 weeks. If real contraction occurs during the 37th week, it may mean pre-term labor.
Your doctor may prescribe drugs or require hospital admission for pre-term labor. If real contractions occur before the 37th week, call your doctor immediately.
When do I call the doctor for contractions?
Braxton Hicks is called a false alarm for a reason. And it is responsible for sending many women in a panic call or rushes into the maternity clinic.
Call your doctor if you think you have real labor contractions with other signs. But it is perfectly okay and understandable if you call for false contraction.
Your midwife will evaluate the situation and time the occurrence to rule out false from true.
Contraction is the sign that will help women feel they are up and about for baby delivery. When the pregnancy reaches its 40-week estimate, contractions will become apparent. Sometimes, these contractions can be false.
At times, when contractions seem a little late, moms need not worry about it as long as she has an uncomplicated pregnancy. Babies will come out whenever they are due, and pretty soon, they will experience the signs when babies are ready.