Every time you enter a new phase of pregnancy, you enter a new world of symptoms, aches, pains, and sometimes even pleasures! One of the most confusing symptoms of the later stages of pregnancy are the dreaded Braxton Hicks contractions. Named after the doctor who researched this false-labor phenomenon, these contractions may give you the “This is it” feeling, but in reality, won’t lead to much other than some temporary discomfort. Braxton Hicks contractions can be confusing for even second or third-time moms. This week we break down the difference between your false-labor pains and the real thing.
What Are Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Often called “practice contractions”, Braxton Hicks contractions are most commonly experienced during your third trimester but can start as early as your second trimester. During these contractions, the muscles of the uterus will tighten for about 30-60 seconds, and on the rare occasion for as long as a couple of minutes.
What Causes Braxton Hicks Contractions?
- While these types of contractions will sometimes just happen, there are some triggers that may bring them on.
- Dehydration is the number one cause of Braxton Hicks Contractions
- If baby and or/mother have had a very active day
- Having a full bladder or needing to have a bowel movement
- Sexual intercourse
Telling The Difference Between BH Contractions and the Real Thing
When people talk about Braxton Hicks contractions, they are often referred to as “false labor” pains. And while it’s true that they can prepare women for “the main event,” it may be a little confusing to tell the difference, especially later in your pregnancy.
Braxton Hicks vs. Real-Labor Contractions
Braxton Hicks Contractions
Infrequent and unpredictable timing
Constant and predictable
Irregular in intensity
Steadily increases in intensity as dilation and effacement occur
Rhythmic (Most contractions last roughly 60 seconds, or 90 seconds)
Uncomfortable and not necessarily painful
Can usually be relieved by small adjustments, and disappear completely
Contractions can’t be stopped until laboring is finished
Easing Your Symptoms
- Just because Braxton Hicks contractions are a natural part of pregnancy doesn’t mean you want them to stick around any longer than they need to. So if you feel them starting, there are a few simple things you can do to find some relief.
- Drink water. Like we said previously, dehydration is the number one cause of Braxton Hicks contractions. So even if you feel like you’re drowning already, have a glass of water when you first feel the symptoms come on.
- Change your position. If you’ve been lying down or sitting for a while, sometimes adjusting or rolling to your other side will make baby move and relieve the contractions.
- Take a warm bath. Try not to stay in for longer than 30 minutes.
- Get moving. Walk around or do a bit or prenatal yoga.
- Breathe. False labor is the body’s way of preparing for real labor, so go through your breathing exercises. It’s good practice for real labor, and will also reduce your stress level in the meantime.
As always, if you have concerns or think you might be going into actual labor, call your medical professional right away.
At Miami Center of Excellence, we are here to answer your pregnancy-related questions and give you peace of mind during the entire process. Give us a call at (305) 515-5425, or visit us online to make an appointment.