Painful Contractions during pregnancy

The uterus, like all smooth muscle structures, is constantly alternating between a phase of contraction and a phase of relaxation. This begins before you are born, but is not noticeable until the middle of pregnancy, when you may feel a hard lump in your lower abdomen which remains for thirty seconds and disappears, to reappear ten or fifteen minutes later. Such contractions ordinarily are not painful. However, in some women—rarely in a first pregnancy—these contractions become painful at times during the late months. Such painful contractions, false pains, are difficult to differentiate from true labor. We have noted that a change of position often stops the false type of painful contractions, so, if you are lying down, stand and walk about; if you are standing or sitting, lie down. Also, true labor pains gradually get closer together and harder. Then, too, true labor pains may or may not be accompanied by a show of blood, whereas false pains never are. If a bout of painful contractions begins during the night and you think this may not be true labor, take a teaspoonful of paregoric; if the pains are false, you will probably soon drop back to sleep, but if they are the contractions of true labor, the teaspoon of paregoric will not stop them.