It has fooled many pregnant women. Often referred to as “practice contractions,” Braxton Hicks happen when the muscles of the uterus tighten for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. It feels like you’re going into labor, but there are some differences between Braxton Hicks and actual labor contractions.
Braxton Hicks are distinct from labor pains. They usually feel this way:
Irregular in intensity
More uncomfortable than painful (although for some women Braxton Hicks can feel painful)
They do not increase in intensity or frequency
They taper off and then disappear altogether
Expect Braxton Hicks to occur in your third trimester, although sometimes they can also be felt in the second trimester. Some doctors and midwives think that they help in toning the uterine muscle and promoting the flow of blood to the placenta, as well as softening the cervix. They can be triggered by a number of things: when the mom or baby are very active, a full bladder, sex, dehydration, or even if someone touches the belly!
Braxton Hicks also tend to intensify as the delivery date comes closer. At this time, they help you prepare for labor, helping with dilation (when cervix starts to open up) and effacement (when cervix prepares for delivery).
If you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, you can try to do these things to feel better:
Change your position. Lie or sit down if you’ve been standing. Start moving if you’ve been resting.
Take a warm (not hot) bath. Don’t go past 30 minutes.
Drink water, especially if the contractions are due to dehydration
Drink a warm cup of milk or herbal tea to relax
If they don’t help the contractions, call your doctor.
Braxton Hicks Contractions: Causes and Treatments