Usually pregnant women notice Braxton Hicks because they have brushed their bellies with their hands – and notice that it has tightened, while other moms will notice the tight feeling without having to feel it with their hands. Some women only notice them because they find them to be uncomfortable.
Braxton Hicks contractions, which are more commonly known as false labor or practice contractions. Braxton Hicks are sporadic uterine contractions which will usually start around 6 weeks – although you may not feel them that early, but you will start to feel them around the second trimester of your pregnancy.
While most of the time they seem like an annoyance and yet another thing to deal with in pregnancy, they are believed to be helpful in preparing your body for childbirth
What is the difference between Braxton Hicks and real Labor Contractions?
This is possibly one of the most common questions around Braxton hicks and labor. In general – true labor contractions will get longer in length, closer in frequency and stronger in their intensity. Having said that, it is not uncommon for Braxton Hicks contractions to also get closer together � they will generally remain more inconsistent and their intensity will not increase. Of course Braxton hicks will also usually disappear when you get up and move around, where as true labor contractions will continue along their path.
To tell the difference between Braxton hicks and real labor contractions you should keep the following in mind:
- Unlike real labor pains, Braxton Hicks won�t increase in intensity.
- Labor pains will increase in frequency, occurring closer together. Braxton Hicks contractions will eventually go away on their own.
- Braxton Hicks contractions tend to be irregular, with no precise pattern to them. Real labor pains will have a definite pattern.
- Braxton Hicks contractions are not as painful as real labor pains.
What Causes Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions often start as a result of specific triggers � and some of these triggers include:
- Physical activity or exertion
- Sexual intercourse
- Touching your abdomen
- Your baby moving inside your uterus
Best Way To Deal With Braxton Hicks?
Some women find that Braxton Hicks contractions are really uncomfortable � and in deed they can become uncomfortable � especially for those who experience them almost constantly over a long period of time. We do have some suggestions which may help you deal with your Braxton Hicks:
- Drink lots of water. Dehydration can make your muscles spasm, bringing on a contraction.
- Avoid caffeine.
- You can practice your labor breathing techniques � as rhythmic breathing will help to alleviate your discomfort.
- Lie down on your left side when you have a contraction.
- Change the position you are in or switch activities for a while when you have a contraction. A slight change in movement sometimes make the contractions disappear.
- Urinate when you need to. A full bladder can sometimes trigger Braxton Hicks
Should You Call Your Doctor?
If you are earlier than 37 weeks and you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions which are closer than 12 minutes apart � then you should call your doctor as this may be a indication that you are in preterm labor.