Braxton Hicks contractions are uterus contractions that take place in the third trimester of pregnancy. They are completely normal and have been described as contractions that occur as the uterus prepares to give birth. They can occur as early as the second trimester in some women. Braxton Hicks contractions are also termed as false labor.
Dr Archana Dubey, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Indore says “Braxton Hicks contractions, unlike true labor contractions, do not occur at regular intervals, do not become stronger over time, and do not last long. They don't happen at regular intervals, and they can go away for a while. They become more common as the pregnancy is about to end.”
Facts About Braxton Hicks Contractions
- Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as false labor, are uterine contractions that occur most frequently in the third trimester of pregnancy.
- Braxton Hicks contractions are usually less painful than true labor contractions.
- Unlike true labor, Braxton Hicks contractions are unpredictable, do not occur at regular intervals, and do not become stronger over time.
- Dehydration and physical activity can both cause Braxton Hicks contractions.
- Changing positions may help to alleviate the discomfort of Braxton Hicks contractions.
What Are The Causes Of Braxton Hicks Contractions?
- The most common cause of Braxton Hicks contractions is dehydration. They can be brought on by even mild dehydration. If you have a cold or the flu and are vomiting or feeling nauseated, you may experience Braxton Hicks. This is frequently associated with dehydration.
- Mother's or baby's increased activity. Extra movement, especially lifting, can cause Braxton Hicks.
- Braxton Hicks can also be triggered by fatal movement. Women frequently report feeling a sharp kick from the baby or a lot of activity just before contractions began.
- Touching the mother's abdomen
- Sexual encounters
- Maternal bladder enlargement
The following are some signs that you are in labor:
- You may notice a clump of pinkish or bloody mucus also known as bloody show when you use the restroom.
- You might notice that the baby has shifted lower in your tummy.
- Vaginal fluid leakage is possible. This means that your water (a fluid bag known as the amniotic sac) has ruptured.
- The mucus plugs dissolve
- You feel the need to urinate more frequently.
- Pain in the back
- Cramps that typically last 30 seconds to 2 minutes
- Mild contractions that do not cause actual pain
- Sensation that may resemble menstrual cramps
What Does It Feel Like To Have Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Dr Archana Dubey says “Braxton Hicks contractions are usually not as painful as true labor contractions. Some women describe them as a tightening in the lower abdomen. In some women, they may feel similar menstrual cramps. It is possible that the abdomen will become firm to the touch. They don't happen at regular intervals.”
What Are Some Of The Natural Remedies For Reducing The Discomfort And Pain Of Braxton Hicks Contractions?
If you are bothered by Braxton Hicks contractions, you can take the following steps:
- Go for a walk or take a break if you've been overly active.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or mental relaxation.
- Consume some food and drink a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea.
- Relax in a hot bath for up to 30 minutes.
How To Distinguish Between Braxton Hicks Contractions And True Labor?
Dr Archana Dubey adds “Braxton Hicks contractions can become rhythmic, close together, and even painful in the days or weeks leading up to labor, leading you to believe you're in labor. Contrary to true labour, contractions during this so-called false labor do not usually grow consistently longer, stronger, or closer together.”
When To Contact The Doctor When Experiencing Braxton Hicks Contractions?
Consult your doctor if you haven't attained 37 weeks and your labor pains are becoming more frequent and painful, as well as if you have any of the following labour symptoms:
- Increased vaginal discharge, bleeding, or spotting
- Increased low back pain or pelvic pressure
- Over four contractions per hour
- Cramps like menstruation or abdominal pain
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