Braxton Hicks Contractions During Pregnancy: What To Know
Braxton Hicks contractions are a common experience during pregnancy. These are the contractions of the uterine muscles that occur in the third trimester of pregnancy. Braxton Hicks is often called "false labor" because they are not true labor pains and do not state any actual labor.
Unlike true labor contractions, Braxton Hicks contractions do not cause any pain. However, they can feel uncomfortable and cause mild cramping or a sensation of tightening in the stomach. Braxton Hicks can occur at any time during pregnancy, but they are most common in the second or third trimester.
What Causes Braxton Hick's Contractions
There is no one specific cause of Braxton Hicks contractions, but they are thought to be the body's way of preparing for labor. Some factors that may trigger Braxton Hicks contractions include:
- Too much physical activity by the mother or baby
- A distended maternal bladder
- Sexual intercourse
- Changes in the baby's position
- Fetal movements
- Maternal stress or anxiety.
It's important to note that Braxton Hicks contractions are generally considered to be harmless and a normal part of pregnancy.
When Do They Occur
The second or third trimester is when women usually experience Braxton Hicks contractions but some might experience them even earlier during gestation. Not every woman experiences it and it’s completely normal to have Braxton Hicks.
Symptoms Of Braxton Hicks
The following symptoms typically characterize Braxton Hicks contractions:
- Mild menstrual-like cramps
- Tightening or hardening of the uterus
- A feeling of pressure or discomfort in the abdomen
- The contractions come and go and are irregular in frequency
- The contractions do not increase in intensity or duration over time
- There is no pain or discomfort in the lower back, which is common during true labor contractions.
How You Actually Feel
Braxton Hicks are not painful, they just feel uncomfortable. In comparison to labor pain during which the contractions are intense, painful and last for a longer period of time, the former do not last long and they disappear only to come back sometime later in the future.
Moms usually describe Braxton Hicks as mild menstrual cramps or a sensation of tightening in the stomach which comes and goes.
Is There Any Treatment?
There is no specific treatment for Braxton Hicks contractions because they are a natural and normal part of pregnancy. However, certain things you can do to ease the pain caused by the contractions, such as
- Changing positions
- Resting or lying down
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Taking a warm bath or shower
- Gentle exercises, such as walking or prenatal yoga
- Getting a massage
- Using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.
When To Call Your Doctor
If you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, it's important to know when to call your doctor. You should contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your contractions become more frequent and intense
- You are less than 37 weeks pregnant and have four or more contractions in an hour
- You experience bright red vaginal bleeding
- You feel a gush or trickle of fluid from your vagina
- You have severe or persistent pain in your abdomen or lower back
- You experience any other concerning symptoms, such as fever or chills.
If you are unsure whether you should contact your doctor, it's always better to err on the side of caution and give them a call to discuss your symptoms. Your healthcare provider can help determine whether your symptoms are related to Braxton Hicks contractions or if there is a more serious issue that requires medical attention.
Although changing positions may ease uncomfortable Braxton Hicks, you should check with your doctor if you see any of the above symptoms.
Braxton Hicks contractions are a normal part of pregnancy and are the body's way of preparing for labor. While they may feel uncomfortable, they are not painful and usually last for a short period of time. There is no specific treatment for Braxton Hicks, but there are ways to ease the discomfort such as changing positions, relaxing and staying hydrated. It is important to contact your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms or have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy.
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