Contractions are one of the more well-known parts of the labor process. When you go into labor, your uterus contracts and starts pushing your baby out. Contractions are painful, but they're necessary to bring your baby into the world. Dr. Ross told me, "As you get closer to term (38 to 42 weeks), your uterus, which is one large muscle, will start to contract."
These early contractions, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, aren't actually a sign of labor. Instead, they're getting your body ready for the labor that is coming in the future. Dr. Ross explained that for women who are low risk, you are likely not in early labor if contractions are irregular, sporadic, and you're experiencing minimal pain.
Dr. Ross advised, however, "Once the uterine contractions become regular, appear closer together with increased intensity, this is a sign that labor has started. Regular and painful uterine contractions, occurring every three to five minutes for two hours, are a sign early labor has begun."