Braxton Hicks Contractions – Is it a Sign of True Labor?

Braxton Hicks Contractions

These are the false contractions that occur before true labor occurs. It was named after an English doctor, John Braxton Hicks, in 1872. You may feel that they are real contractions, but then feel they are not once the tightening sensation has subsided. It can be confusing and most women mistake it for the real thing at some point.
These contractions can begin at an early stage, for example, in the second trimester. However, it is very common during the third trimester. It occurs when the uterus tightens and can repeat for up to sixty minutes. They are called “Practice Contractions” as they prepare you for the real thing. Here are some of the characteristics of these false contractions:

  • Firstly, they are infrequent and irregular in intensity.
  • They are unpredictable and non-rhythmic.
  • They are uncomfortable rather than painful.
  • They do not increase in both frequency and intensity.
  • They taper off and disappear suddenly.

Braxton Contractions – What are the causes?

Here are some of the causes of these false contractions:

  • Excessive physical activity.
  • Dehydration.
  • Sexual intercourse.
  • Baby moving inside the uterus.
  • Touching your abdomen.
  • If your bladder is full.

Braxton’s Contraction – Tips for alleviating discomfort

Here are some of the ways you can alleviate these false contractions:

  • Drink a cup of warm tea or milk.
  • Change your position; if you have been walking or standing for a long time then it is better you lie down.
  • Take a warm bath for not less than 30 minutes.
  • Avoid the intake of caffeine.
  • Drink plenty of water as dehydration can result in muscle spasms, which can lead to contractions.
  • Practice breathing exercises as rhythmic breathing can alleviate the discomfort.
  • Urinate when required as a full bladder can also cause false contractions.

Even after doing these if you are not able to alleviate the contractions, then you must contact a health care provider.

When should you consult a doctor or midwife?

Call your caregiver immediately if you have not reached 37 weeks and if your contractions are becoming more rhythmic, painful, or frequent. Here are some of the signs for you to watch out:

  • Any vaginal bleeding or spotting.
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Menstrual like cramps.
  • If you have more than four to five contractions in an hour.
  • Increase in the vaginal discharge or even the type of discharge.
  • If the discharge is, bloody, mucous, or even watery.
  • An increase in the pelvic pressure, where you may have a feeling that your baby is being pushed down due to contractions.
  • Pain in the lower back.

If you are above 37 weeks, then you need not call your doctor or midwife immediately, until they last for more than sixty seconds.

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