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The Uterus That Cried Wolf

The uterus is a pretty amazing organ.  It can grow to many times its size, carefully cradling the growing life inside of us all the while.  When the time comes to deliver baby, the uterus is responsible for bringing on contractions and pushing the baby down into the birth canal, which is no small feat when you consider the physics of the situation. 

Another big job the uterus has is to prepare for childbirth by having contractions throughout your pregnancy to help the muscles tone and get ready for the big event.  Similar to doing sit ups to tone your stomach muscles, the uterus will have contractions regularly from early pregnancy, right up to delivery.

While you won’t start to feel those contractions right away, at some point in your pregnancy you will probably begin feeling a tightening across your belly.  For a new mother, these can be a source of consternation, since we’re all told that contractions mean labor, but in the case of those early contractions, you usually have nothing to worry about.

Those contractions that occur before labor are called Braxton-Hicks contractions, after the person who discovered them.  They are harmless and will prepare your uterus for labor.  You can tell real labor contractions by the fact that they don’t subside no matter what you do, and they increase in frequency and intensity.

So if you have been feeling contractions like this, rest assured that they are a normal part of pregnancy and the mean your body is doing what it should to get things ready for the big day.