Labor Without Contractions?

Is it possible to go into labor without having any contractions?
profile picture of Michele Hakakha, MD
ByMichele Hakakha, MD
OB-GYN
Updated
Feb 2017
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The very definition of going into labor, at least from a doctor’s point of view, is based on having uterine contractions. When these contractions occur at regular intervals, and are paired with noticeable changes in the cervix, you better bet your bump you’re about to have a baby. These labor pains not likely to be confused with a slight backache or indigestion from a late lunch. You’ll definitely know when you’re in labor unless you have an unusually high pain threshold — it’s really uncomfortable!

Not everyone has her water break (in fact, only about 10% of women do experience this on their own without any prior contractions) but almost everyone starts to feel a tightening in the belly, much like the Braxton Hicks contractions you’ve likely already been having through your third trimester. This tightening becomes a cramp that often wraps around to the lower back, and the cramps follow a predictable pattern (i.e. every 5-8 minutes), get closer and closer together, last longer and grow increasingly more intense. If you suspect you’re in labor, contact your doctor or health care provider, who will advise you when you need to come into the hospital or birthing center for your delivery.

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