What are Braxton Hicks Contractions?

True Labor is characterized by contractions that come in regular intervals and increase in frequency (how often contractions occur), duration (how long contractions last) and intensity (how strong the contractions are) over time. As time progresses, the contractions come at closer intervals.

What are Braxton-Hicks contractions?
Braxton-Hicks contractions are smaller contractions or “practice contractions” that can occur as early as the 2nd trimester, but more commonly occur in the third trimester. Unless they follow a pattern they are what we call “false” labor. Not everyone will notice or experience these contractions, and some will have them frequently. Some moms say they notice them more in subsequent pregnancies than in their first pregnancy. Don’t panic if you don’t notice them. Some women only notice them because they find them to be uncomfortable or annoying.

Braxton Hicks(named after English gynecologist, Dr. John Braxton Hicks in 1872) are described as:
• Irregular in their intensity
• Infrequent
• Unpredictable
• Non-rhythmic
• More uncomfortable than painful
• They do not increase in intensity, or frequency
• They taper off and then disappear altogether

What triggers Braxton Hicks Contractions?
• physical activity or exertion
• sexual intercourse
• dehydration
• touching your abdomen
• your baby moving inside your uterus

Braxton Hicks contractions help your uterus practice for your upcoming labor and birth. They help to soften your cervix and exercise all the muscles that you will need to push your baby out. Without the help of Braxton Hicks contractions, labor would actually be much more difficult and painful.
If you are experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, you really don’t need to do anything unless they are causing you discomfort. If they are making you uncomfortable try the following:

• Change positions; lie down if you have been standing or go for a walk if you have been sitting or laying down.
• Get some sleep or rest.
• Empty your bladder with first urge to void. A full bladder can trigger Braxton Hicks contractions.
• Relax.
• Drink water, juice, or herbal tea. Dehydration can make your muscles spasm, bringing on a contraction.
• Eat a snack or small meal.
• Get a massage.