4 Types of contractions you didn't know about

contractionsContractions. Honestly, I hear the word and I hold my breath! When I was pregnant with my first child and I had my first "contraction" at two months, I called 911. I'm not kidding! It was early in my pregnancy, my husband was away on business and I didn't know what to do. I was helplessly lost and didn't have any books or guidance about "What to Expect When You're Expecting, so I panicked and dialed. It turned out that I wasn't in labor (obviously) and my belly's muscles were just stretching.

I learned that contractions are normal and they all don't mean that the baby is coming out anytime soon. If you are pregnant or planning to be, read on so you won't drive the emergency phone operator crazy like I did.

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The term "contraction" is not exclusive to pregnancy. Contractions happen whenever our muscles are expanding due to force or pressure. Think exercising, but instead of you lifting the weights, your baby is doing that for you. As the the baby grows everything stretches and the muscles rip. These are the different types of contractions you might experience before labor:

Early contractions: Some mothers feel these types of contractions during the first trimester more than others, but they are quite normal if they are not accompanied by light bleeding. The ligaments around the uterus are expanding. These muscles need to develop and get stronger in time to deliver your precious one. If you are feeling pain and bleeding, contact your OBGYN, though, because you might be having a miscarriage.

Braxton-Hicks: These contractions often appear after twenty four weeks of pregnancy. They are random and quick. You might experience three or four of these contractions in a day or week, but they should be irregular and last only few seconds. If they become regular and the intensity increases, you should go to the hospital because you may be having a premature birth.

Orgasm contractions: Like the term suggests it, they happen during or after sex and should feel more like cramps. It's not clear why they occur but it probably has something to do with the fact that your body is using different muscles to protect the womb. Sex during pregnancy is safe as long as it's not accompanied by spotting.

Labor contractions: These are regular and the intensity increases each time. They start usually ten minutes apart from each other and become faster as your cervix gets more dilated. It's important to time your contractions to make sure you have enough time to go to the hospital or call your midwife.

Image via Corbis

Topics: about pregnancy  childbirth  conceiving a baby