General Category => Preterm Labor: Anything and Everything => Topic started by: nebulous on May 23, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Title: Is it a contraction or just my baby moving around?
Post by: nebulous on May 23, 2009 at 12:50 PM
I was just put on bedrest yesterday, due to a shortened cervix. I'm 23 weeks and my cervix went from 3cm at 20 weeks, to 2.5 cm at 23 weeks. I'm now on bed rest / "couch potato duty."  I had to see a specialist (perinatologist) who did the transvaginal ultrasound and then tried a digital vaginal check. It hurt so bad that she gave up after a few attempts (she was really rough. ugh.)

So as I've been looking online about preventing preterm delivery, etc, I've found descriptions of contractions that sound a lot like what I experience...and just thought was my little one moving around. sometimes, my stomach will get hard in one spot, like there's a tennis ball inside. It bulges out and I or my husband can feel exactly where the baby is. I had been describing it like a "tightening" or like he's just trying to push himself out of my stomach.  I didn't think anything of it, but now I'm concerned that it's the "tightening" that's mentioned here...the kind that's painless contractions.

This is my first pregnancy, so I have no previous history of miscarriage, preterm labor, etc. It doesn't run in our families. I have another appointment with my regular doctor in a few days, and I'll ask her about it...but I wouldn't have even known that it could possibly be a contraction. The perinatologist just said to watch out for changes in discharge or for menstrual-like cramps. (I don't really get menstrual cramps, so that's a hard one for me to gauge.)

If any of you have felt these kinds of "tightenings" or baby movement, could you explain to me a little more what they're like and if it's something I should be monitoring?

Title: Re: Is it a contraction or just my baby moving around?
Post by: Angela on May 23, 2009 at 02:44 PM
I'm sorry to hear you are on bed rest, but I'm glad you're being proactive in keeping your baby cookin'! You ask such a great question! So many women don't realize that the tightness is a contraction. I was actually a couple months into my second pregnancy when I asked my sister-in-law (who was 6 months along) "Has your tummy gotten hard yet?" She said "No. Should it be?!?" And that was the first time I realized that I had contractions from very early on in my first pregnancy! I thought a hard belly was just normal! So for the rest of the second pregnancy, I was able to recognize contractions. (Which started at 17 weeks!)

For me, during contractions, the hardest part of the belly was around my belly button, and the tightness radiated out from there. I'd feel the tightness from one side of my waist to the other. Other times I would feel some pain/tightness in my lower back, and then feel the tightness come around to the front.

There were times when I'd feel the baby pushing his head or butt against my belly, but it would just be firm in that one spot. It didn't go all from waist-to-waist or all the way around like contractions would. You'll want to call your OB anytime you have 4 or more contractions in an hour. And also keep an eye out for these other symptoms of preterm labor:

I am SO happy to see a first-time mom getting care from a perinatologist. So often it isn't until after a woman has had a serious episode of preterm labor or that she has delivered early with a previous pregnancy that precautions are taken (such as transvaginal ultrasound and bed rest). --Angela

Ladies: How would you describe what contractions feel like?

Title: Re: Is it a contraction or just my baby moving around?
Post by: cjohn131 on May 23, 2009 at 07:22 PM
I too was very confused in my first pregnancy when it came to what a contraction was.

I worked up until my eighth month and for the majority of my pregnancy I was getting what I know now are contractions. The reason I didn't ever suspect that the "tightening" feeling I was getting was a contraction was that it wasn't necessarily painful. When I think of a contraction I picture women in their hospital rooms screaming bloody murder over the pain. I worked right through them although some of them were uncomfortable enough to make me sit down every once in a while.

One night the "tightening" came with cramping and I went to the hospital being a nervous first timer :). It turns out that tightening I was experiencing were indeed contractions. And they were what the nurses' considered moderate contractions. I was given terbutaline to calm them and released with a lower dose prescription to keep them under control.

I was told that if you have dull pains in your lower back and or abdomen along with the tightening it's definitely a contraction. Even just the tightening alone is a contraction - you can tell the difference between the two.

Hope this helps!
Title: Re: Is it a contraction or just my baby moving around?
Post by: lizsmc1 on May 25, 2009 at 05:06 PM
I have been on bed rest since 29.5 weeks due to moderate preterm contractions. I also didn't know what they felt like till i was actually in the hospital. A few things. 1. real contractions make your entire belly (or most of it) harden. I also have spots where my belly gets hard. I happened to be at the doctor when it happened and she said no, that is the baby pushing out, not a contraction. if it is just a spot or half your belly it is either the baby or a braxton hicks. 2. real contractions start from the bottom of the uterus and move up the belly. Braxton hicks contractions start in the top part of the belly and either move down or just stay in the top. They can be as strong as real contractions though. 3. when you get farther into your pregnancy sometimes the weight of your belly can make your stomach muscles tense. that also happened to me and I asked my doctor about it.  I asked because it happens frequently when i get up, since i've been sitting around for a month. I should also say that my belly feeling heavy and tight started the day before i had real contractions, but my belly being tense was constant and made it very uncomfortable to sleep.

I'm 34 weeks today with my first and he frequently pushes out rather hard at times which can feel like a contraction, because it makes my stomach muscles tense, but now i know what a real contraction feels like..
Title: Re: Is it a contraction or just my baby moving around?
Post by: nebulous on May 26, 2009 at 02:54 PM
Thanks so much! I don't know what I'd do without the internet ;)

Adding to my worry, yesterday I had an unusual globby discharge. I called the doctor-on-call right away and she put my mind at ease for now. The tightening has slowed down a lot and I haven't had any kind of cramping or pain. I'll post an update after my next Dr. appointment on Wednesday.
Title: Re: Is it a contraction or just my baby moving around?
Post by: Angela on May 26, 2009 at 10:21 PM
The globby discharge could have been part of your mucus plug. Your mucus plug can "regenerate," but it is always a reason to call the doc if you aren't yet at 37 weeks. Especially if you're having other preterm labor signs. So glad you are staying on top of this!

I've posted some info on "normal" discharge versus "mucus plug" discharge at the bottom of this page:

TMI, I know, but we gotta talk about this stuff. Right? :+)