If you've been on the contraction monitor... — The Bump
3rd Trimester

If you've been on the contraction monitor...

Last Sunday I was in L&D for contractions.  After staying overnight their frequentcy dissipated, and I never did dilate.  Anyhow, the contraction monitor has a range of about 0-100, presumably measuring severity.  My contractions probably averaged around the 50 mark.  Prior to discharge I even registered several contractions that peaked out at 100. 

My OB told me not to come back to L&D until I was basically crying through my contrax.  It just seems to me that I have probably experienced real enough contractions since they registered so highly on the hospital monitors, right?  It seems to me that I might have a higher pain tolerance than he recognized.  I'm afraid, since I have to have a c/s, to stay at home waiting for contractions that make me nearly cry.  What do you think?  I mean, contractions that were off the charts on the hospital monitor can't be THAT weak, right? 

Tell me your experience...

Re: If you've been on the contraction monitor...

  • I hate machines. Never put 100% trust in machines. Your body will tell you when it's the real thing.

     

    I have some pretty gnarly BH contactions that could easily register "100" on those machines.  

    BabyGaga
    Pregnancy # 6
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    2 loving children
    1 on the way
  • I was just at L&D yesterday for a few hours and I asked about the numbers on the contraction monitor.  The MW explained that the machine can only gauge when  you are having the contraction, not the severity of them.  There are too many variables, such as how much fat is between the skin and the uterus, the position of the baby, etc.  They can somewhat gauge by feeling your belly during these contractions, but they mainly just take the woman's word on how severe they are.  My contractions were averaging in the mid 70's, but they were about 10 min apart, so they weren't concerned.  
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  • image jenna1008:

    Last Sunday I was in L&D for contractions.  After staying overnight their frequentcy dissipated, and I never did dilate.  Anyhow, the contraction monitor has a range of about 0-100, presumably measuring severity.  My contractions probably averaged around the 50 mark.  Prior to discharge I even registered several contractions that peaked out at 100. 

    My OB told me not to come back to L&D until I was basically crying through my contrax.  It just seems to me that I have probably experienced real enough contractions since they registered so highly on the hospital monitors, right?  It seems to me that I might have a higher pain tolerance than he recognized.  I'm afraid, since I have to have a c/s, to stay at home waiting for contractions that make me nearly cry.  What do you think?  I mean, contractions that were off the charts on the hospital monitor can't be THAT weak, right? 

    Tell me your experience...

    If you are having a c-section, don't you have a date set already? Why would you have to wait for timeable contractions? That doesn't make ANY sense...

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  • Like PP said, the monitor doesn't gauge the "severity" of contractions.  It is measuring pressure, and that doesn't necessarily need to correspond with what you are feeling.  Also, you could be monitored a different time and find your contractions on the monitor to be in different ranges, it also has to do with where it is placed on your belly that it could give a different range each time.  For example you could have contractions that register as starting at 0, and then be monitored again and have ones that start at 20.  It doesn't mean that they are starting at a more "painful" level.  When judging contractions from a monitor (for example when a woman has such a powerful epidural that she can't feel them at all) they are looking at the pattern that they create, not the numbers.  Different stages of labor typically produce different patterns of contractions. 

    About what your OB said though.... that sounds ridiculous.  Some women "loose it" earlier in labor than others, crying is not an accurate way to gauge labor progress.  You should go by frequency, length and intensity that you feel.  There is no reason that you need to be crying to know that they are getting stronger.  With great support and by using different positions and comfort measures hopefully you will never get to that point in labor where you are just crying from pain.  Pain can be managed by many means.  

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  • image cburitz:
    image jenna1008:

    Last Sunday I was in L&D for contractions.  After staying overnight their frequentcy dissipated, and I never did dilate.  Anyhow, the contraction monitor has a range of about 0-100, presumably measuring severity.  My contractions probably averaged around the 50 mark.  Prior to discharge I even registered several contractions that peaked out at 100. 

    My OB told me not to come back to L&D until I was basically crying through my contrax.  It just seems to me that I have probably experienced real enough contractions since they registered so highly on the hospital monitors, right?  It seems to me that I might have a higher pain tolerance than he recognized.  I'm afraid, since I have to have a c/s, to stay at home waiting for contractions that make me nearly cry.  What do you think?  I mean, contractions that were off the charts on the hospital monitor can't be THAT weak, right? 

    Tell me your experience...

    If you are having a c-section, don't you have a date set already? Why would you have to wait for timeable contractions? That doesn't make ANY sense...

    Not sure how far along OP is but she's probably not having her c/s until around 39 weeks - if she's starts having bad contractions it still means a posisble trip to L&D....

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  • See, this is what bothers me. My OB told me pretty much the same thing last time- about crying through contractions. When I went to the hospital in labor my OB did not believe I was in "real" labor because I was talking and laughing and "having a good ol' time" between contractions. Ummm...I was 5cm dilated. But apparently he thought I should have been acting differently! I, too have a high pain tolerance. If I would have waited to close to tears I would have been at 9-10cm! I would NOT wait until that to gage when to go to the hospital. Follow your gut and just go!
  • They may not of had the machine set right. When i was pregnant with DD I had a lot of hospital monitoring and sometimes a nurse would forget to adjust the machine and my weak contractions that I barely felt would register in the 80's when it was probably more like a 30. 
  • I didn't go into labor last time so take this with a grain of salt - but when I was on pitocin and having some contractions I barely noticed unless someone read the machine.

    I would necessarily wait for tears either - I would pay more attention to the timing and whether they've increased in strength. 

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  • Thanks for the feedback!  My c/s is scheduled, but I have been having some intense labor pains and already been in L&D. Dr doesn't think I'll make it to my c/s date, so he gave me instructions as to when to return to L&D.  I'm freaking out, so I think I'll be back pretty soon.
  • I had a rather similar visit to L&D earlier this week.  When the doctor sent me out, he didn't say anything about waiting for the pain to be more intense, but rather different.  Basically, what I was experiencing at that time wasn't causing me to dilate and I needed to wait for different contractions that would. The vagueness of the whole thing makes me nervous since I'm an hour and half away, but it's helping me ignore the current contractions.

    That may not help you, but at least you know you're not alone w/ this is waiting game. :) 

  • The Toco monitors are not an accurate way to measure the severity of contractions.  The only true way to measure the severity is if they place an internal monitor.  But you can use a general rule of thumb that was taught to me in nursing school.  During your contraction feel how hard your uterus is, then compare it to your chin, nose and forehead, see which one feels similar.  If it is like your chin they consider those to be milder, nose it moderate and your forehead is considered severe.

     Good Luck, I hope that helps.

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  • I am an L&D RN.  The "strength" of contractions on the external monitor mean nothing.  The external contraction monitor (the one on your belly) is only good for measuring how often and how long your contractions are.  The only way to gauge the strength is by feeling how hard your belly gets.  I have had patients cry over mild contractions and others laughing through very strong ones.  A mild contraction feels like the tip of your nose when you touch your belly.  A strong one feels like you forehead.  Does that make sense?  The only time those numbers mean anything is when you have an internal contraction monitor in called an IUPC.  One more thing.  Labor is defined by cervical change not contraction frequency.  That is why they sent you home, because you had made no cervical change.  
  • I agree with above...I was in labor and delivery yesterday (because I thought my water had broken) and was having really strong contractions that I wasn't even feeling. The nurse said it could be a lack of fat (...I didn't think that was possible when you are pregnant, but yay!). She told me when I was sent home that I really need to start counting contractions, but I'm not sure how I can when I'm not even feeling all of them. I have heard when you are in real labor, you will definately know for sure. I guess we'll know for sure in a few weeks!

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