Practice Contractions Or Real Contractions? How To Tell The Difference

First of all, all contractions are muscle contractions, that is, tensions of the muscle. However, there are different types and each has a different function. However, are they exercise contractions or true contractions? Here you will learn how to find out the difference between exercise contractions or real contractions.

How Do I Recognize Exercise Contractions?

Most women will encounter practice contractions during their pregnancy. When these occur for the first time, many expectant mothers are concerned. Especially if this happens at a relatively early stage in pregnancy. Fortunately, these worries are unfounded. Exercise contractions are basically just contractions of the uterus, or to be more precise, the uterine muscle. During these contractions, the uterus contracts for a short time and then relaxes again. In most cases, it is not painful. You just notice that your abdomen becomes hard.

The Most Important Things About Exercise Contractions

  • They are used to prepare the uterus for birth.
  • Can be a little uncomfortable, but should not be painful.
  • Occur about eight to ten times a day starting in the second trimester of pregnancy.
  • Should not be treated immediately with magnesium.
  • Are not considered an indicator of an unproblematic, quick birth.

When Do Exercise Contractions Occur?

For most women, exercise contractions occur for the first time around the 20th week of pregnancy. However, if you do not have exercise contractions, there is no need to worry. Everyone’s body works differently. Accordingly, exercise contractions can also be completely different.

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Why Is It Not Recommended To Take Magnesium?

If you take magnesium, it will inhibit the contraction of the uterine muscle. However, it is important that this muscle is constantly exercised until the actual birth. Magnesium would only prevent this.

How Do I Recognize Real Contractions?

The contractions that initiate the onset of labor may initially be cramping pains. You’ll probably feel these in your abdomen, thighs, and back. If your contractions start during the night, for example, it will be almost impossible to fall asleep again as the muscle contractions become stronger and stronger. There is a completely painless phase between each contraction. Caution Contractions cannot be alleviated by a hot bath. On the contrary, they may even intensify. However, labor pains can easily be confused with preterm labor pains. For example, if they are relatively weak at the beginning or occur at long intervals.

Practice Contractions Or Real Contractions – What’s The Difference?

Especially in the last weeks before birth, the uterus prepares for birth with recurrent contractions. You can feel these contractions of the uterine muscle, but they are not painful. You might ask yourself, are these contractions for practice or are they real contractions?

You can recognize real labor pains by the following signs:

  • Contractions hurt, come at regular intervals, and feel similar to menstrual cramps.
  • Intervals between contractions shorten.
  • The contractions last longer than 30 seconds.
  • You will notice a small amount of blood loss. This means the plug of mucus blocking the cervix has broken loose.
  • The water breaks.
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Attention! If your water breaks, you should elevate your pelvis and call emergency services immediately.

Practice Contractions Or Real Contractions – What Types Of Contractions Are There?

From the second half of your pregnancy onwards, you will experience contractions again and again. However, these practice contractions are basically only training for the actual birth. The contractions only become much more intense towards the end of the pregnancy. But what types of contractions are there? Here’s how to recognize them.

Training Contractions (From The 20th Week Of Pregnancy)

Practice contractions are the first contractions you will experience during your pregnancy. From around the 20th week of pregnancy, you may feel light contractions again and again. However, these should not be painful.

During exercise contractions, your abdominal wall hardens for just under a minute. This can happen especially several times a day at irregular intervals.

Recognize Exercise Contractions

  • Can occur as early as the 20th week of pregnancy.
  • Painless.
  • Irregular.
  • Abdominal wall hardens for a moment.
  • The cervix does not open.

Preterm Labor/Lowering Contractions (From The 36th Week Of Pregnancy)

Towards the end of your pregnancy, your contractions will change. You can recognize this by the fact that they become more intense and also more painful. They occur about three to four weeks before birth and are responsible for pushing the baby further into the pelvis. This is a sign that the birth is about to begin. At this time, your abdominal wall hardens again, and you will also feel that your baby and uterus are pressing on your bladder. The contractions are irregular, get weaker and also stop again.

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Recognize Preterm/Lower Contractions:

  • Can occur from the 36th SSW.
  • Partly painful.
  • Irregular.
  • Abdominal wall hardens, uterus and baby press on the bladder.
  • Do not affect the cervix.

Opening Contractions (From The 37th SSW)

You will encounter opening contractions around your expected due date. When the opening contractions begin, the cervix is initially still closed. At the end of this phase, it has a diameter of about 10 cm. These contractions take the longest part of the birth and are perceived as relatively painful by most women.

Recognizing Opening Contractions:

  • Begin with a painful pulling sensation that may spread to the legs and back.
  • Initially, opening contractions are irregular, but that changes over the next few hours.
  • They become longer, more intense, more painful.
  • If the contractions become longer and are constant in intensity, this is a sign of the opening of the cervix.

Pressor Contractions

Once the cervix is completely open, the so-called expulsion phase now begins. During this phase, contractions become particularly intense and the intervals between contractions decrease.

Recognizing Contractions:

  • Initiate the expulsion phase of birth.
  • Ensure that the baby can come into the world through the birth canal.
  • Complete the birth.
  • Very painful.
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Postpartum Contractions

In this last phase of the birth, contractions occur again. However, you may hardly recognize them because they are painless. Postpartum contractions only have the task of detaching the placenta from the uterine wall.

Recognize After Contractions:

  • Follow the completed birth.
  • Are much weaker than pressor contractions.
  • Resemble strong menstrual cramps.
  • Can last up to 15 minutes.

Preterm Labor: How To Recognize And Respond To Them Correctly

In the normal course of birth, labor does not begin until the development of the fetus in the abdomen is complete, which would be viable. However, premature labor can also occur and a threatened miscarriage. Signs of preterm birth are basically premature contractions, premature opening of the cervix, and premature rupture of the membranes. A baby is called premature if it is born before the 36th week of gestation. Although medical advances mean that it is viable outside the womb from the 24th SSW, some risks may occur. Therefore, it is important to strictly follow the doctor’s instructions and to take care of your body.

However, if you notice these abnormalities, you should immediately go to a clinic near you:

  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Sudden pain.
  • Discharge of fluid from the vagina (possible rupture of membranes).
  • Fever or increased body temperature.
  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Premature discharge of the mucus plug.


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