Loaded Question

LeRoy asked an innocent question in the comments on my last post: When do women begin having Braxton-Hicks contractions and have I felt any?

That’s possibly the most loaded question one could have about pregnancy and me. I started to respond in the comments but it became really long.

A uterus contracts a lot. Pregnant or not pregnant. According to Dr. K, a smaller waisted pregnant woman feels them earlier and more often. She said she would expect me to feel a lot (and that she would expect it to scare me). Women often feel more and earlier in subsequent pregnancies. Same with another pregnancy symptom, round ligament pain. The books say to expect round ligament pain to be at its worst at 16-20 weeks, and B-H contractions to appear after 20-24.

In my last pregnancy, I began having what Dr. M decided was round ligament pain at 14 weeks. I began having what he called B-H contractions at 17, they became regular at 19 weeks. According to most doctors’ experience, both things, the contractions and the pain should be worse for me this time around.

And yet, so far, at 18 weeks, I feel what might be a B-H contraction at most three times a day but the whole uterus never tightens, just an area of it. Dr. K said that probably means the baby’s hanging out in that spot. At this point last time I was making terrified calls to the doctor’s office. At 19 weeks there were at least 3 an hour. And I have what I could call stiffness in my hip joints, but no pain that’s even close to what I had last time that was dismissed as round ligament pain.

So, was I having B-H contractions or real ones last time? Was my pain normal or abnormal? In retrospect it’s all clearly abnormal, but all I knew last time was that pregnancy wasn’t supposed to be comfortable and I wasn’t.

I don’t need to hear again, though, how Dr. M’s practice was negligent. I suppose in the larger scheme of things, it was more likely that I was just complaining than that I was in pre-term labor. It just happened not to be that way with me, at that time.


7 responses to “Loaded Question

  1. I had round ligament pain very early and started having BH at around 15 weeks. Both scared me, too, and both were written off as “normal.” I believe that they were, but I also believe that because of this (and the episodes of spotting and bleeding–one that warrented a 4 hour trip to L&D at 16 weeks) played a big part in the way I reacted when I actually was in PTL. Yes I called the on-call doctor about the contractions (not BH this time) and the other symptoms and I did everything they said. But I will forever wonder how things might have been different if I had just gone to L&D that night instead of waiting almost 24 hours.

    I am so glad to hear that the BH aren’t so bad for you this time around. I can imagine that despite all of the measures you are taking and how well the cerclage went that having BH would still be very scary. I hear the P17 shots really help lessen contractions.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. Sounds like Dr. K. does an excellent job explaining to her patients what is going on with their bodies. I am so glad you are with her practice!

  3. LeRoy Dissing

    Sara…thanks for answering that question so completely. I, too, am glad that the contractions you are experiencing this time appear to be what they are – BH. I don’t know if the number or intensity of BH contractions increase as the pregnancy progresses or stays about the same. I imagine it varies with each person – right?

  4. I wonder if there’s an unusually wide range of what’s considered normal for these things. I never had any round ligament pain (I’m not even sure what it is exactly) and never had any contractions, B-H or otherwise.

  5. My experience with both my boys is more like your current one, than your past one.

    When I did have round ligament pain, it was also something my chiropractor and massage therapist were able to relieve. (They were trained in pregnancy massage.) Anyway, it always made me feel better, because they told me that they couldn’t stop labour, but that the stretches and gentle pressure points could stop the muscles and ligament pain tightening. Later on in pregnancy, I has waaaay more BH. My doctor had no real explanations for either!

    I do think you are doing better this time, if it’s any comfort?

  6. A friend of mine had such bad round ligament pain she went to the ER and stayed overnight. I think B-H would scare the crap out of me. Contracting uterus, whether normal or not, is scary.

    Dr. K sounds great. I’m glad you’ll have the support you need this time.

  7. When my eldest daughter was born at 31 weeks, I never had a contraction, and I don’t recall feeling any B-H contractions at all. Maybe they were so mild I never felt them – or maybe I just never had them at all. With my second (who was full terms), I didn’t have either as well. I suspect there is a huge range in these things. I’m glad that your doctor keeps you so well informed.

    What I did have with my second that I *COMPLETELY* did not expect were very intense after-pains. I COMPLETELY did not expect that, and when they first hit me, I thought I was going to drop the precious little bundle in my arms.

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