Braxton Hicks – aka False labor pains

The contractions  of the uterine muscles that occur in the third trimester of pregnancy are termed as Braxton Hicks.  Braxton Hicks is a way  the body  prepares for true labor pains, but their occurrence do not indicate any actual labor.

What causes Braxton Hicks contractions

Unlike true labour contractions, Braxton Hicks do not cause any pain. A number of reasons can lead to these false contractions, they are :

  1. Too much physical activity of the mother or baby
  2. Distended maternal bladder
  3. Dehydration
  4. Sexual intercourse

When do they occur

The second or third trimester is when women usually experience Braxton Hicks contractions but some might experience even earlier during gestation.Not every woman experiences it and it’s completely normal to have Braxton Hicks. 

How you actually feel

Braxton Hicks are not painful, they just feel uncomfortable. In comparison to labour 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 future.

Mums usually describe Braxton Hicks as mild menstrual cramps or a sensation of tightening in the stomach which comes and goes. 

Is there a treatment

Braxton Hicks last somewhere between 30s to 2 minutes. Although they can’t be detected or treated, there are ways to ease them. 

Try to :

  1. Change your position
  2. Lie down or relax
  3. Go out for a walk if you’ve been sitting for a long time
  4. Rehydrate yourself
  5. A warm bath or massage might help
  6. Take a nap

When to call your doctor

If your contractions are increasing in frequency and you haven’t reached your 37 weeks yet, it might be time to check with your gynaec.

You should essentially contact your healthcare provider when you have the following symptoms:

  1. Bright red vaginal bleeding
  2. If you feel a gushing of fluids down there
  3. If the contractions become intense and painful
  4. More than four contractions an hour

Although changing positions may alleviate uncomfortable Braxton Hicks, if you see any of the above symptoms you should definitely check with your doctor.

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