If you’re pregnant and more than four weeks away from the due date for your baby, you obviously don’t want to be going into labor. If you are facing this crisis, however, the solution may be as simple as drinking more water.
After having 2 problem-free pregnancies, I was surprised to find myself having regular contractions at 30 weeks gestation during my 3rd pregnancy. I had been having frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions, but on one particular evening, they were coming every 5 minutes, lasting about a minute each. They didn’t hurt, but I knew this was nothing to be ignored. I called my midwife who instructed me to take a hot bath and drink, drink, drink.
[Braxton-Hicks contractions are those toning, “practicing” exercises the uterus does to prepare for labor. While they won’t put a woman in active labor, they are doing something. They are prepping the uterus to be ready for the big day. Anytime contractions are coming at regular intervals, they should not be ignored.]
In addition to having event-free pregnancies, I was also accustomed to event-free labors. I had never had false labor. Even with my first pregnancy, labor began and didn’t stop until 8 hours later when I saw my son for the first time.
So, to start having regular contractions at 30 weeks was a frightening thing for me. I didn’t expect my body to stop what it had started. I began to assume that I’d have to go to the hospital to be monitored, to take drugs to relax my uterus…And what if labor couldn’t be halted at all? I might have a preemie who would have to spend weeks in the NICU.
After following the midwife’s instructions, though, the contractions slowed down in the night, and my midwife sent her assistant to come see me the next day. The baby sounded fine, but the painless-though-present contractions were still coming regularly.
She questioned, then lectured, me about my water intake. She wanted me to take in 3 quarts a day, if possible. !!!
Drinking lots of water and taking more frequent trips to the bathroom had never been high on my priority list. “Drinking to thirst” had been my plan. But, since I had been trying to gain more weight, I had been pouring myself glasses of milk instead of water even when I felt thirsty. I had not been getting enough water!
As I brought my water intake up over the next 3 days, the contractions slowly petered out. After 4 days of bedrest, I was able to be up and around. For the duration of the pregnancy (which lasted 38 weeks), whenever I got behind on my water drinking, I’d become aware of Braxton Hicks contractions and be reminded to drink. Wonderfully, water was the only cure I needed. And for my 4th pregnancy, it has been the only prevention I’ve needed. Here’s to water!