Braxton Hicks Contractions
Whoa! What the heck was that? Wondering if you're having Braxton Hicks contractions, gas or (worse!) preterm labor? Here's how to identify those "practice" contractions and how to deal with them.
What are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Braxton Hicks contractions (named after the English doctor who first described them in 1872) are relatively painless, irregular and infrequent contractions that start around week six and last until the weeks before delivery. Though they start in the first months, you probably won't feel them until around week 28 (if at all). These contractions are your body's way of practicing and preparing for labor.
What are the signs of Braxton Hicks contractions?
You’ll feel tightening in your uterus that’s irregular, infrequent and unpredictable. These contractions won’t increase in intensity the way the contractions of labor do. They’re also likely to go away if you change positions.
Are there any tests for Braxton Hicks contractions?
There’s no reason to test for Braxton Hicks contractions, but if you’re having them and your doc suspects it could be preterm labor, she may do some fetal monitoring tests to record the length and duration of your contractions, as well as the heartbeat of your fetus. Or your doctor may check for other signs of preterm labor, like dilation of your cervix or the presence of certain proteins.
How common are Braxton Hicks contractions?
Stats are tough to find, but it seems that most moms-to-be get Braxton Hicks contractions here and there during pregnancy. They’re most common in the third trimester.
How did I get Braxton Hicks contractions?
They’re just a normal part of pregnancy. The tightness you feel in your uterus during a Braxton Hicks contraction comes from the tensing of the muscles in your uterus. Being really active, a full bladder, sex and dehydration can all trigger Braxton Hicks contractions.
How will Braxton Hicks contractions affect my baby?
As long as they don’t turn into preterm labor, they won’t! In fact, some medical professionals say these contractions are toning up your uterus and promoting the flow of blood to your placenta, so think of it as nourishing your baby.
See next page for treatments, prevention, resources and tips from other moms-to-be.