as many of you know,... this is our first baby. I am 37 weeks and 4 days today. During the last week i have had some pretty painful occurences in my lower stomach that feel like intense menstral cramps.... I have also had braxton hicks contractions.... which do not hurt, but feel like a tight sensation. These painful occurences last anywhere from 1 minute to 3 minutes and do not happen in any order or succession. Just random. For examle... i had one on last saruday morning.... tuesday mornings and tonight. my question to you ladies is, are they real contractions? What does this mean for my preparation for labor? Should i be concerned that i am getting close? Please help, i am rather nervous. as i mentioned, i was 4 cm dialted on the outside and 1cm in the center as of monday of this week. my amniotic fluid is normal high at 18cm and mackenzie is measuring a week ahead. Any advice is always apprecaited.