Braxton Hicks contractions are indeed false labor contractions.
Are you getting a lot of pain in your stomach like a tightening or similar to menstrual cramps and they are coming every so often and nothing seems to help? But you are not even 30 weeks of pregnant?
Almost all women experience Braxton Contractions during their pregnancies, and easily mistake them as the beginnings of labor. Occasionally the uterus contracts during pregnancy causing discomfort, often sending mothers-to-be, especially first time mothers, to the hospital.
Braxton Hicks feel as though your whole uterus just turns to a rock and gets really tight. They make it hard to breathe sometimes and it puts a lot of pressure on just your whole body.
Braxton Hicks or Labor Contractions?
Starting in the second trimester of pregnancy a woman’s uterus may begin to tighten and relax, sometimes causing concern for mothers-to-be. Unlike true labor pains, Braxton Hicks contractions are irregular and decrease in a few minutes or hours.
In addition, they are not painful and many mothers agree they are more of a nuisance than uncomfortable. Usually, these practice contractions only last a few seconds, but as the baby’s due date draws near, they can last as long as two minutes.
What are the Causes of Braxton Contractions?
In 1872, Doctor Braxton Hicks conducted a study on these false labor pains and his findings have comforted pregnant women for over 100 years. Speculation about what causes Braxton contractions include:
- The uterus toning up and practicing for labor.
- Dehydration. Drink plenty of water.
- Muscle stimulation from strenuous activity.
- Baby movements. Some women describe Braxton Hicks contractions as a feeling of the baby balling or bunching up in one place.
- Sexual intercourse.
These contractions may also occur if someone else touches your abdomen or when the bladder is full. It will not take long for an expectant mother to recognize what triggers some of her Braxton contractions. However, often there will be no specific trigger and these contractions will just occur.
How to know if I am having False or True Labor Pains?
The early signs of labor are difficult to pinpoint, as Braxton Hicks contractions will increase as the due date approaches. False labor pains are irregular in duration and length, and while these types of contractions may be painful, they usually subside in a few hours.
Any painful contractions should be reported to the physician regardless as preterm labor pains are not as predictable as full term labor pains. Once your doctor has ruled out preterm labor and determined that the contractions are Braxton Hicks contractions, you can relax.
Early Stages of Labor?
First time moms will find the early stages of labor to be frustrating as contractions may occur sporadically for days up to a week or more.
These early contractions help the cervix to thin and dilate so the baby can pass from the uterus into the vaginal canal. For most women, these contractions occur between five and twenty minutes apart and last only a few seconds.
Some women notice a mucous discharge that may be tinged with blood. However, this is a normal occurrence during early labor. This mucous is known as the plug and is considered one of the best signs of impending delivery.
How do I know I am having an active labor?
Active labor occurs after the cervix has dilated to ten centimeters and may last hours after the cervix is dilated. This is the most uncomfortable stage of labor as contractions may only be a minute or two apart and last from one to three minutes.
Mothers who have learned relaxation technique, how to breathe through contractions and recognize the importance of fighting the urge to push, will proceed easier through the active labor stage.
Braxton Hicks contractions should not be cause for concern, as they are a normal part of most pregnancies. Changing position, warm baths, staying hydrated and a cup of warm herbal tea or milk will usually help soothe the discomfort of these types of contractions.